120 Seconds with … Risica Caputi

Meet Risica Caputi. She is the author of Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down (Volume 14).

  • Day Job: By day I work as a cashier at the local Circle K. I am also a licensed massage therapist, and do that gig on the side whenever I have the time. 
  • 3 favorite authors: Ray Bradbury, Charles Bukowski, and Agatha Christie. 
  • 3 artists I admire: That is a tough one. I have always wished that I could have Marina Abramovic’s courage and passion. I am constantly mystified by Bernini’s sculptures. I have visited the Borghese Gallery several times and I can’t figure out how someone could make something so perfect. Lastly, I admire Dali— he embraced his weirdness. 
  • Bragging rights: tell us about something you’re really proud of. I’m proud that I have finally learned to love myself. It’s taken a while. 
  • What’s the toughest criticism of your work you’ve ever received? How did you respond or deal with it? I once sent a sonnet I wrote to an online magazine. They told me it was too rhyme-y. How did I deal with it? I stopped rhyming. 
  • Must-have item for my workspace: Quiet. 
  • Where do your ideas come from? What can you tell us about your creative process? My ideas come from what I see at my tedious, stressful, and crazy job. I get inspiration from my interactions with others. For example, I had a male customer recently tell me that I should re-paint my nails—he could see the polish was chipping. So I wrote a poem about how women are seen as the property of others; how some men see it as “okay” to tell a woman how to look, dress, or simply be. 
  • How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?I never really know if a piece is done. It just comes out of me, and that’s that. Sometimes I go back and change things around or edit. But then again, sometimes I don’t. 
  • Tell us about an under-appreciated artist, gallery, writer, or bookstore do you think people should know about. My friend from high school, Nick Sirotich. We rode the bus together for 2 years, and we were really good friends. He is an illustrator and tattoo artist; he’s the coolest guy ever. You can find his work at nicksirotich.com
  • 3 things that will be obsolete in 10 years: cursive writing, CD players, ugg boots (I hope). 
  • Any fun plans for the summer? My plans for the summer are to work, write, garden, and to finish up the courses I need to become a licensed body piercer. 

Vol. 14 POWER AND CORRUPTION: Risica Caputi - “Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down”

"The piece I’ve written is about how backward American society is. Although we have made incredible advances in technology, medicine, and so forth, our country has the mental attitude of a four year old. We want to be cool. We want to be perfect. We want everything, and we want it now. This poem is a bit cynical, but who isn’t nowadays?"—Risica 


Welcome to America
Land of freedom and prosperity
Where the old are forgotten
Shut away inside graying walls
So we are not subjected to their slow decay
Where the prosperous ascend to the top
On the broken sweating backs
Of the middle class

This is the land where vanity is god
Where we starve and cut and die
To meet impossible standards
Where higher education is for everyone
As long as your pockets are lined with gold
We are deluged with images of the beautiful people
Leading lives that we wish we could have
Famous for nothing and loving it

Welcome to America
Land of freedom and acceptance
Where you are judged not on the goodness of your soul
But on the price of your Louis Vuitton handbag
Where some struggle and toil just to make it to next week
While the one percent sip champagne over breakfast
Watching the rest of us work ourselves to death.

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There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it. It is the same tantalising sensation when you almost remember a name, but don’t quite reach it. I can feel it when I think of human beings, of the hints of evolution suggested by the removal of wisdom teeth, the narrowing of the jaw no longer needed to chew such roughage as it was accustomed to; the gradual disappearance of hair from the human body; the adjustment of the human eye to the fine print, the swift, coloured motion of the twentieth century. The feeling comes, vague and nebulous, when I consider the prolonged adolescence of our species … Perhaps someday the revelation will burst in upon me and I will see the other side of this monumental grotesque joke. And I’ll laugh. And then I’ll know what life is.
Sylvia Plath

Wrapping Up Volume 12: HOME

On this cold and snowy spring morning, we wanted to take a (very belated) moment to thank everyone who submitted for Vol. 12, and to the contributors who were selected to share their work. The interpretations of the theme “home” varied widely, and we enjoyed reviewing each and every piece.

Check out the full post below for a recap of the volume (and our thoughts on these amazing submissions).

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120 Seconds With….Liz L. Lyon

Liz is the author of "Caressing the Butterfly".

  • Day job: Executive assistant.
  • 3 favorite authors: Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, C.S. Lewis, Rilke, Pablo Neruda…
  • 3 artists you most admire: Mary Cassatt, Franz Kline, Edgar Degas.
  • How have you changed as an artist since you began creating/writing? I think that the point of being an artist is to see everything as mutable and manipulatable, and to guide one thing’s transformation into something else entirely. That new something should elicit a response from the reader/viewer, ranging anywhere from pleasure to disgust. I’m still learning how to do that; it’s a continual process.
  • Describe your dream studio/workspace. A space with lots of light and a view.
  • Where do you feel the most “at home”? In a place where I can take off my shoes and snuggle into the couch, with a blanket and some chamomile tea, where I don’t have to speak to anyone unless I want to.
  • Something you never leave the house without: Unimpressively, I never leave without my keys and phone.
  • How do you unwind and get in the mood to create/write? It’s a combination of staring at the notebook, doodling, remembering, and skimming the internet for some added juice. When I get an image, feeling, or idea that I like, I respond to it in some way.
  • Tell us about a favorite holiday/wintertime tradition. Decorating for Christmas - Handel’s “Messiah” blaring throughout the house, countless trips down to the basement and back up again with arms full of kitschy Christmas gear, the excitement of Christmas and the imminent gathering of family.
  • Name the last song that got stuck in your head. "Let’s Go" by Matt and Kim.

Vol. 12 HOME: Liz L. Lyon - “Caressing the Butterfly”

Death has caressed the dragonfly
and I have caught him in my embrace.
His wings flutter, silent, in the wind,
crumpled and lacerated.

He won’t taunt me, and I won’t chase
him again to those marsh-shores nearby.
The cause of his death is baby-clear:
I killed my dragonfly.

I never knew that he was mine
until the moment I held him
in my deathful, loving embrace.
My heart flutters silently,
crumpled and lacerated.

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120 Seconds with… Richard J. Fleming

Richard is the author of "Dis Place".

  • Day job: Factotum.
  • 3 favorite authors: Arthur Rimbaud, Thomas Hardy, Ogden Nash
  • 3 artists you most admire: Kasimir Malevich, Giacomo Balla, Franz Marc.
  • How have you changed as an artist since you began creating/writing? I used to be a Classical Poet, now I am catering to Fringe Groups.
  • Describe your dream studio/workspace. Undersea Habitat.
  • Where do you feel the most “at home”? Stonehenge.
  • Something you never leave the house without: Brushing my teeth.
  • How do you unwind and get in the mood to create/write? Beer for Breakfast.
  • Tell us about a favorite holiday/wintertime tradition. Book burning.
  • Name the last song that got stuck in your head. Cars 4 Kids.

Vol. 12 HOME: J’Sun Howard - “Home”


is once upon a time- transient dreams of new light,
radio, and illusory skies; an upper left hand corner
to a house too close to a yellow poplar
that if severed by a lick of lightning its branches
would retard those dreams. think something sweeter
than nightdark and transit through it: a soul maybe..?
imagine a ghost trundling, ambling in a cemetery
lying down besides all those that are gone for a perfect fit.
what he’s seeking has been lost all along, loveloss.
no hairy chest to lie his bewildered head on. just like
a monster calling home. recalling lord aizen, dear
trickster, deceiving those who knew home could be
elsewhere. deception comes as a knock on a door-
the music is too loud. dad says, “you don’t need to come
back here.” the monster hardly ever calls home.
which doctrines prove the heart ahouseunbuilt?
is this when the handgun debuts? and why would
you not keep one as you sprint down those long
red corridors? please know that when you see
“chris was here” scored into the walls deep in there
that it’s not a wound but where home should be.
for all that is known, there is no holiday for saying
goodbye; no memory joyful enough to elicit tears;
no foursided structure climbing to a peak
to imprison you from living; no dust; no porchlight
to alert when outside playtime is over; no more
sneaking out of bed to lie in the hallway to watch
wrestling with mom as she waited for dad; no more
stale mcdonald’s either; nothing; no; only
the efficacy of knowing that there isn’t a key needed
when death plugs in the nightlight and tucks you in
to sleep for foreverness once upon a time when
home lived in breath.

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120 Seconds With….Colleen Maynard

Colleen is the author of the poem Shared Room.

  • Day job: Pastry chef.
  • 3 favorite authors: Haurki Murakami, Louise Glück, John McPhee.
  • 3 artists you most admire: My dear friends—so many of them are artists, writers, and craftspersons!
  • How have you changed as an artist since you began creating/writing? My writing and visual artwork have grown more intertwined and balancing of each other, and I can interchange them depending on what I need to be doing at the given moment. I have a lot more faith in my processes of writing and art-making, so once I jump into a project I can work on it for a long time without getting bored or exhausting the matter. As a dual writer and artist, I’ve also learned that at times I’m just going to be focusing more on one body of work than the other, and that doesn’t mean that I’m neglecting my other “child.” I love them equally and dearly.
  • Describe your dream studio/workspace. Either a small room with a door; or a humming, old-timey diner with decent coffee and good people-watching.
  • Where do you feel the most “at home”? In my studio and outdoors.
  • Something you never leave the house without: My bicycle!
  • How do you unwind and get in the mood to create/write? Bike hard, run fast, walk and photograph, or simply force myself to sit down with pen and paper.
  • Tell us about a favorite holiday/wintertime tradition. I try to make at least a few of my Christmas presents each year. Recently I’ve made a walnut cutting board, a hand-drawn calendar, and drawings of friends’ stuffed animals that they’ve kept since childhood.
  • Name the last song that got stuck in your head. Whitney Houston, “How Will I Know”.