Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition: Dancing with Ghosts

Featuring poetry and prose, Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition explores the theme Dancing with Ghosts. These stories, poems, and essays grapple with home, history, and identity. Read about digging up family secrets, listening to the whispers of a place’s memories, grieving someone who’s gone but not dead, and making space for the unknown and unknowable. Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition is the perfect book to curl up with on a chilly autumn day.

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Letter from the Editors

Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition begins with the poem “Reformation” by Rachel Bruce. She writes: “It is difficult to protect another season from ruin / at your hands. . . . You may have left me unsalvageable, / but I am determined to love my Octobers again.” This poem captures an idea we wanted to explore in our Dancing with Ghosts theme: reflecting on memories and emotions tied to places, bodies, and seasons and figuring out how to move forward. Sometimes we rewrite those memories, reclaiming a place or season; sometimes we allow those memories to simmer, revisiting them again and again to find new meaning or purpose. We are continually making peace with our past, learning how our memories and experiences and people we loved have made us who we are today. As you read the stories, poems, and essays in this edition, we invite you to dance with your own ghosts, whatever they may be.

Dancing with Ghosts

There was a small cutout in the wall of a place you used to call home. You would sit in the hole, surrounded by walls and space, walls that were close together, space that felt limitless. Sometimes you would sit there and just think, let your mind wade through the distorted memories, seeing your life played back, rippling, as if you were underwater. Eating at the dinner table, engrossed by the sequel of a book you loved. Staring out into the small audience at your spelling bee, the absence of your parents weighing heavily. Sitting on the concrete with your back against the wall, silent, the noise of your classmates fading into the background, as the wind stirs a pile of dead leaves beside you.

You are a mosaic of the people who have let themselves into your life, of what they did to you, for you, around you. You let others make a home inside you to avoid feeling empty. You have always been more of a wallflower, waiting for things to happen to you, not feeling like you had the agency to make things happen for yourself. You might get the occasional rush of inspiration, the adrenaline propelling you to move forward. These are the moments that you want to be perceived by, but not the moments that you believe you are made of. These moments that pass through you, that happen to you—will you ever learn to grasp them before they dissolve? 

Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition Contents and Contributors

Fiction

“Old Goliath” by Emily Uduwana

Emily Uduwana (she/her) is a California-based poet and artist. Her work has appeared in recent issues of The Northridge Review, Stonecoast Review, and Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts. She can be found on Twitter at @em_udu.

“Heirloom” by Thomas Lawrance

Thomas Lawrance is from the United Kingdom, but he lives in Ireland, where he writes fiction and performs stand-up comedy. His writing has appeared with Bandit Fiction, Brain Mill Press, Montana Mouthful, The Bookends Review, and others.

“Ghosting” by Amy Wang

Amy Wang is a writer from California. In her free time, you can find her reading fanfiction. Her work is published or forthcoming at Twin Pies Literary, Ogma, and X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine.

“The Echo House” by Eleri Denham

Eleri Denham (she/they) writes fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Little Patuxent Review; Whale Road Review; Cease, Cows; and elsewhere. Originally from Chicago, Eleri now lives in Oregon with her partner. Find her on Twitter at @eleri_denham.

Nonfiction

“Some Days Are Diamonds” by Michael Colbert

Michael Colbert loves horror films (his favorites are Candyman and The Silence of the Lambs) and coffee (his favorites are Ethiopian and Costa Rican). He’s an MFA student in fiction at UNC Wilmington, and his writing appears in Electric Literature, Gulf Coast, and Atlas Obscura.

“What Lives Beneath the Buried” by Kara Knickerbocker

Kara Knickerbocker is the author of the chapbooks The Shedding Before the Swell (dancing girl press, 2018) and Next to Everything That Is Breakable (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Her poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from Poet Lore, Hobart, Levee Magazine, and Portland Review and the anthologies Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets, Crack the Spine, and more. She lives in Pennsylvania where she writes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University and co-curates the MadFridays Reading Series. Find her online at karaknickerbocker.com.

“Fortunate Father” by Elle Hammond

Elle Hammond lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She holds degrees from Drury University in writing and English.

Poetry

“Reformation” by Rachel Bruce

Rachel Bruce is a poet from Hitchin, United Kingdom. Her work has appeared in The Telegraph, Second Chance Lit, Eye Flash Poetry, Eponym Magazine, The Daily Drunk, and The Hysteria Collective. Find her on Twitter at @still_emo.

“Imaging the Great Ancients” by Xiaoly Li

Xiaoly Li is a poet, photographer, and computer engineer who lives in Massachusetts. Prior to writing poetry, she published stories in a selection of Chinese newspapers. Her photography, which has been shown and sold in galleries in Boston, often accompanies her poems. Her poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, The American Journal of Poetry, PANK, Atlanta Review, Chautauqua, RHINO Poetry, Cold Mountain Review, J Journal, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for Best of the Net twice, Best New Poets, and a Pushcart Prize. Xiaoly received her PhD in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and her master’s in computer science and engineering from Tsinghua University in China.

“Tracks” by Corinna Schulenburg

Corinna Schulenburg (she/her) is an artist and activist committed to ensemble practice and social justice. She’s a white queer transgender woman, a mother, a playwright, a poet, a founding creative partner of Flux Theatre Ensemble, and the director of communications at Theatre Communications Group. As a playwright, actor, director, and community builder, Corinna has worked on over forty plays in New York City and across the country. Find her online at corinnaschulenburg.com.

“Bus Stop” by Denise Nichole Andrews

Denise Nichole Andrews, MFA, is the publisher of The Hellebore Press and founder of HUES. She teaches and resides in Sacramento, California, with her partner of ten years. Her writing and photography can be found in Hooligan Mag and Parentheses Journal. She enjoys lavender lattes, thrifting for interior and fashion finds, and being a friend to all. For tender tweets and affirmations, follow Denise on Twitter at @DNicholeAndrews.

“719 Lombard” and “Late Autumn Prairie Grass” by Carol Coven Grannick

Carol Coven Grannick is a children’s author and poet with a 2020 debut novel in verse, Reeni’s Turn, and multiple poems and short fiction in Cricket, Highlights, Ladybug, Babybug, Hello, and Hunger Mountain. Her most recent work for adults appears in a number of literary magazines in print and online, including West Texas Literary Review, Oprelle Publications’s Matter anthology, Red Coyote, 2018 Mizmor Anthology, Otherwise Engaged, A Moment of Your Time, and more. Her upcoming chapbook, Call Me Bob, is contracted with Oprelle Publications. As a columnist and reporter for online journals and blogs, she chronicles the inner life of the writer and the creative process.

“The Yellow House at Tumnus Woods,” “Fall Pears,” and “The Ghost” by Bethany F. Brengan

Bethany F. Brengan (she/her) is a freelance writer and editor who splits her time between the Olympic Peninsula and the internet. Her poetry has appeared in Channel, Solum Journal, Gordon Square Review, 2015 Poet’s Market, and CV2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing. She can be found at medium.com/essays-no-one-asked-for.

“I Keep This Pocket of Pain” by Kalisse L. Van Dellen

Kalisse L. Van Dellen writes about where she’s been and what she’s lost. She is a graduate of Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and currently resides as a Canadian expatriate in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work has been featured in the Brogue, The Du Bois Review, and Mississippi’s Best Emerging Poets.

“Hourglass House” and “Legacies” by Nora Boyle

Nora Boyle is a poet, farmer, beekeeper, and witch who consumes coffee by the cauldron-full. She is the founder of Lady Book Witch Press, based out of New Hampshire, which produces limited edition artist books, letterpress broadsides, Tiny Spells Witchery collaborative how-to books, and the literary magazine The Cackling Kettle. Her website is ladybookwitchpress.com. You can find her work on Instagram at @ladybookwitch.

“Heavy” by Maggie Bowyer

Maggie Bowyer (they/them/theirs) is a poet, cat parent, and the author of The Whole Story (2020) and When I Bleed: Poems about Endometriosis (2021). They are a blogger and essayist with a focus on endometriosis and chronic pain. They have been featured in Bourgeon, Germ Magazine, Detour Ahead, Written Tales, Scribe, and more. They were the editor-in-chief of The Lariat Newspaper, a quarter finalist in Brave New Voices 2016, and a Marilyn Miller Poet Laureate.

“Surface” by Cassie McDaniel

Cassie McDaniel has published poems and fiction in Human Parts, Used Furniture Review, Split Quarterly, and The Mangrove Review. She lives north of Orlando. Say hi on Twitter at @cassiemc.

“Leaf Falling” and “August” by Betty Doyle

Betty Doyle (she/her) is a poet and student from Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is studying for a PhD in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, researching infertility poetry and writing her own. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Girl Parts, will be published with Verve Poetry Press in March 2022. For more of her work, find her on Twitter at @betty_poet.

“Halloween 1991” and “Witches of Westbrook” by Sheleen McElhinney

​​Sheleen McElhinney is a poet/baker living in Pennsylvania with her family. Her debut book, Every Little Vanishing, will be released in October 2021 with Write Bloody Publishing.

“Later Shades of Girlhood” and “On Renting an Airbnb in Wellsville, New York” by Sheila Mulrooney

Sheila Mulrooney has an MA in English literature from the University of Toronto. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines such as Typishly, Not Very Quiet, Dappled Things, The Agonist, The Society of Classical Poets, and America Magazine.

“Rite of Committal” and “The Guest” by JR Starzynski

JR Starzynski is a poet living in Columbus, Ohio. They have presented poetry at the Columbus Arts Festival and ComFest, and they were a featured reader for The Poetry Forum’s reading series.

“alms,” “elusion,” and “breathe grief” by BEE LB

BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; they are a writer creating delicate connections. They have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. They have been published in Crooked Arrow Press, Badlung Press, opia, and Revolute, among others. Their portfolio can be found at twinbrights.carrd.co.

“Introduction to Napoleon” by L Fulton

L Fulton is a writer from Northeast Ohio. They just earned their MFA from BGSU.

“Living in an Abandoned House,” “白鬼,” and “Introversion” by Kika Man

Kika Man 文詠玲 is a writer and a student from Belgium, and also from Hong Kong. She has always been writing and playing and learning and reading. To them, all of these are one and the same. Kika writes about mental health, traveling, and dreaming, about her mixed identity, about music and blueness. Alongside writing poetry, she is part of Slam-T, a spoken word and slam poetry platform. They have majored in Eastern languages and cultures: China at Ghent University and are currently chasing after a degree and PhD in gender and diversity and cultural studies.

“Christmas Markets Close After New Year’s” and “Lebkuchen Lattes at Alexanderplatz” by Emily Polson

Emily Polson holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University and has been published in Catfish Creek, Book Riot, and the Brogue. Originally from Central Iowa, she now lives in Brooklyn and works in book publishing. You can follow her on Twitter at @emilycpolson.

“A Heritage Erased” by Marissa Alvarez

Marissa Alvarez lives in a desert, misses snow and beaches, due to health moved back in with her parents, and enjoys their company and that of their shih tzu and the three cats they rescued together.

“Tighten the Noose” and “There’s Healing and There’s Creating” by Eddie House

Eddie House is a twenty-four-year-old genderqueer manic pixie daydream. They enjoy writing, roller-skating, and getting very very drunk. Most likely to be found smoking out of a bedroom window or lying on the sofa complaining. You can find more of their work at ImageOutWrite, Anatolios Magazine, Hustling Verse, or tucked inside library books.

“My Sisters and I” and “Hua Hin” by Pim Wangtechawat

Pim Wangtechawat (she/her) is a writer from Bangkok with a master’s in creative writing from Edinburgh Napier University. Her writing has been published in various places, including Mekong Review, Nikkei Asian Review, and The Selkie. She has performed her poetry at events in Edinburgh hosted by Shoreline of Infinity and the Scottish BAME Writers Network and has given talks about her writing at Chulalongkorn University and Ruamrudee International School. She is working on her debut novel The Moon Represents My Heart and is represented by Liza DeBlock of Mushens Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @PimsupaW and on Instagram at @pim.wangtechawat.

“It Goes So Fast” by Jen Gupta

Jen Gupta is a middle school English teacher, writer, avid hiker, and horse lover. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and their houseplants. Her work has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic and is forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit.

“The Black Dog” by Bianca Grace

Bianca Grace (she/her) is a student and poet from Australia. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Selcouth Station, and Ample Remains.

“Rx: 2501” by Judas Ātman

Judas Ātman (he/they) is a queer, mixed-race, South/Southeast Asian diasporic artist born and raised in San Francisco and now based in New York City. Their artistic practice is based in hybridity, including but not limited to performance, directing, and creative writing. In his work, he uses the liminality of his identity as a foundation for exploring the possibilities of becoming. In 2019 Judas graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in drama and a minor in film production. Since graduating, Judas performed in LIFE with Silver Glass Productions and was featured as a fellow in Theater Mitu’s Hybrid Arts Lab.

“Ghosts of Autumns Past” by Vera Ene Oko

Vera Ene Oko is a recent master’s graduate of the University of Jos. When she is writing and even when she is not writing, she is mothering the smartest two-year-old, Kimberly, her muse.

“embers, dying” by clementine valerie black

clementine valerie black is a poet, teacher, and survivor. She has been published in Honeyfire Literary Magazine. She grew up in the shadows of Dallas, Texas. She lives with her husband, their dog, and a little black cat.

Capsule Stories Autumn 2021 Edition Publication Credits

Book Designer: Carolina VonKampen
Ebook Designer: Lorie DeWorken
Cover Artist: Darius Serebrova

Disclosure: Capsule Stories is an affiliate of Bookshop.org and Amazon, and we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please consider buying your books through Bookshop.org to support independent bookstores—and Capsule Stories!