Featuring poetry, stories, and essays by established authors and emerging writers, Capsule Stories Isolation Edition captures people’s stories and feelings during the coronavirus pandemic and the often isolating social measures that come with it—social distancing, shelter in place orders, isolation, quarantine. Reading about these writers’ experiences from all over the world during this moment—the fear, the grief, the boredom, the uncertainty, the gratitude, the joy in the small things—is heartbreaking and astounding. Within this literary magazine’s 190-plus pages are the words you need to feel less alone during this lonely and isolating time.
Our aim is to make Capsule Stories Isolation Edition accessible for readers all over the world, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. The ebook version of this edition will be $0.99 (the lowest we can price it through IngramSpark). If you would like to read Capsule Stories Isolation Edition but cannot afford the ebook, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a free ebook copy.
Capsule Stories Isolation Edition
It began with vague whispers, tweets about a virus spreading through China. Then through Asia, and Italy, and Europe, and the United States. One by one, and all at once, countries and states and cities shut down. We were ordered to stay home, shelter in place, isolate ourselves, quarantine our families. We scrolled and scrolled and scrolled until we couldn’t form cohesive thoughts anymore.
Some of us were laid off, or furloughed, or forgotten. When we wake up, there is a moment we remember what life was like before. We take walks and walk around people like they’re radioactive. People walk around us like we are radioactive. We feel alone, but together. We long for touch, to feel another’s hand, to hug our friends and family. The air around us is not safe.
The world becomes surreal. The earth is still spinning, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing green again. The skies in cities have become clear and blue, the heavy smog lifted. The world goes on without us. One day, we’ll rejoin society, when all of this is over. We just don’t know when it will end.
Capsule Stories Isolation Edition Letter from the Editors
Words stay with us as we go through life, and the words we kept sacred yesterday may be different than the words we need today. Whatever you may be experiencing right at this time in your life, there are the right words for it. The right words comfort us in need. They breathe life into our beings. They show us how we feel. And we are here to give them to you.
That’s why we decided to publish a special edition of Capsule Stories. Normally, we publish four editions each year at the beginning of each season. But throughout March 2020, we saw our world rapidly changing. It didn’t feel like anything we knew. It was tough to process how quickly things changed—travel restrictions, social distancing, schools closed, stay at home orders, businesses shut down. We didn’t have the words we needed to experience this moment in time.
This edition of Capsule Stories captures our stories and feelings during the coronavirus pandemic and the isolating social measures that come with it. We recognize that in uncertain times, writers often turn to the written word to work through their feelings, to document all the changes in their lives, to be angry with the world, to heal. We want to provide writers with a place to express those feelings, and we want to give readers a collection of writing that helps them feel less alone in this isolating and lonely time.
The pandemic pushes to the surface all these emotions and feelings and affects our relationships with our parents, friends, significant others, neighbors in unprecedented ways. Even if you’re lucky enough to get through the pandemic without getting sick or without your loved ones and friends getting sick or dying, this is still a life-changing experience for all of us. Many of us are stuck at home for weeks or months on end and are learning how to adjust to that reality, while essential workers are forced to go into work with often inadequate protection against the virus. And we’re all afraid of this invisible virus, of catching it, of spreading it to others. Reading about people’s experiences from all over the world during this moment—the fear, the grief, the boredom, the uncertainty, the gratitude, the joy in the small things—has been heartbreaking and astounding.
We are in a story, an actual story, and don’t know how it will end—for us, for our community, for our world. But we also know that as writers, we can write the ending. The actions we take during the pandemic, the words we write, the stories we tell will all shape how this story ends for us. We hope Capsule Stories Isolation Edition helps tell that story.
—Natasha Lioe, Founder and Publisher
Carolina VonKampen, Publisher and Editor
Capsule Stories Isolation Edition Contents and Contributors
“I am writing to you about the recent outbreak . . .” by Iona Murphy
Iona Murphy is a feminist and mental health advocate and spends most of her time engrossed in the works of Sylvia Plath. She describes her work as “straddling the fine line between poetry and oversharing.” She has poetry published in Black Bough Poetry Issue 2, Teen Belle Magazine’s Catharsis anthology, 3 Moon’s One Six One Nine anthology, Re-Side Issue 2, and The Fruit Tree’s Joy issue. She has short stories published with Fevers of the Mind Digest Issue 3, Forty-Two Books’ Strange Stories, and The New Southern Fugitives. She has creative nonfiction published with Ayaskala, ang(st), Brave Voices Magazine, and Mid-Heaven Magazine. You can keep up with her on Twitter at @write_with_iona and Instagram at @ionasmurfy.
“What If . . .” by Jan Chronister
Jan Chronister writes from the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her poetry appears in over sixty-five journals and anthologies online and in print. Jan is serving as the president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets from 2015 to 2020. You can find her online at janchronisterpoetry.wordpress.com.
“C-19” and “‘But Outbreak Was Just a Movie!’ and Now I Wake Up With a Different Kind of Headache” by Isabella J Mansfield
Isabella J Mansfield writes about the many faces of anxiety, body image, intimacy, and the human condition. She favors free-verse poetry over traditional poetry “rules,” but can sometimes be found writing the occasional tanka, senryu, and haiku. Mansfield has performed at Oberon (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Nambucca (London, UK), as well as many locations in and around Lansing, Michigan. Her poems have been featured by Philosophical Idiot, The Wild Word, And So Yeah, Sad Girl Review, and Capsule Stories, as well as in publications by PoetsIN, Augie’s Bookshelf, and Rebel Mountain Press. In 2017, she was a Brittany Noakes Poetry Award semifinalist. She won the 2018 Mark Ritzenhein New Author Award. Finishing Line Press published her Pushcart Prize-nominated chapbook, The Hollows of Bone, in 2019. She lives in Howell, Michigan, with her family.
“March 15, 2020” and “March 16, 2020” by James Croal Jackson
James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Good Works Review, and indefinite space. He edits The Mantle Poetry. He works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at jimjakk.com.
“The Last Word(s)” by Barbara Simmons
Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston and now resides in San Jose, California, and the two coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins. As a secondary school English teacher, she loved working with students who inspired her to think about the many ways we communicate. Retired, she savors smaller parts of life and language, exploring words as ways to remember and envision. Publications have included Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, and Perspectives on KQED, the NPR local affiliate.
“A Handful of Stories” by Nathan Beck
Nathan Beck lives in Amsterdam, though is originally from Manchester, United Kingdom. He is a designer by day but writes poetry and fiction in his spare time. His work has appeared in Expanded Field, Amsterdam Quarterly, Ós Pressan, Eye Flash Poetry, and Constellate Literary Journal.
“The Five Senses of COVID-19” by Ange Yang
Ange Yang is a lawyer living in Australia with her dog and colossal student debt. She is interested in works concerning Asian-Australian literature, mental health, cross-cultural exchange, and study strategies. She enjoys her dumplings steamed, her noodles spicy and is known to be an aggressive stationery hoarder. You can find her at @imbyelaw on Instagram and Twitter.
“Bed” by Alana Saltz
Alana Saltz is the founder and editor-in-chief of Blanket Sea, an arts and literary magazine showcasing work by disabled creators. Her poetry has appeared in Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, Okay Donkey, Yes Poetry, Five:2:One, and more. She received her MFA in writing from Antioch University and resides near Seattle. Her debut chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light, was released in January 2020. You can find out more at alanasaltz.com and follow her on social media at @alanasaltz.
“Aftershock” by Kendra Nuttall
Kendra Nuttall is a copywriter and aspiring poet from Utah. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah Valley University with an emphasis on creative writing. Her work has previously appeared in Chiron Review and Maudlin House, among others. She lives in Utah with her husband, David, and dog, Belle. You can find her online at kendranuttall.wordpress.com.
“Lysis” by Tara Iyer
Tara Iyer is a person and a scientist—in that order—living in the mid-Atlantic. They are mostly thinking about medical ethics and television and would be very grateful if you would come say hi on Twitter at @verytiyered.
“Quarantine Gratitude” and “Tiny Agents” by Shannon Barringer
Shannon Barringer lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She teaches English literature in a public high school. She’s learning how to be a teacher on the internet. She misses her students daily. Shannon is finishing her first chapbook, Attachment Wound. Her previously published work can be found in Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine.
“Like Home” and “Plagues as in Plural” by Daniel Edward Moore
Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His poems are forthcoming in Weber Review, Tule Review, The Cape Rock, Magnolia Review, Kestrel, The Phoenix, Red Earth Review, and Writer’s Block Magazine. He is the author of two chapbooks, Confessions of a Pentecostal Buddhist (self-published) and Boys (Duck Lake Books). His book Waxing the Dent, a finalist for the Brick Road Poetry Prize, was released February 1, 2020. His work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net. Visit him at danieledwardmoore.com.
“The Way We See It” by Cassia Hameline
Cassia Hameline is a PhD student in creative nonfiction at the University of North Texas. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming in Blanket Sea, The Fix, Cosmonauts Avenue, Utterance, and elsewhere. She lives in Denton, Texas, where you can usually find her in the woods with her dog, Moab.
“Pandemic,” “Peeling Carrots,” and “Slacks” by Steve Denehan
Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland, with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. He is the author of Miles of Sky Above Us, Miles of Earth Below (Cajun Mutt Press), Of Thunder, Pearls and Birdsong (Fowlpox Press), Living in the Core of an Apple (Analog Submission Press), and A Chandelier of Beating Hearts (forthcoming from Salmon Poetry). He won Irish Times’ New Irish Writing twice, and his numerous publication credits include Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, Westerly, and Into the Void. He has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poet and has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize.
“Love in the Time of Social Isolation,” “I Am Still as Tender as Before,” and “When the Faucet Flows” by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of the full-length poetry collection Flashes & Verses . . . Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press and the poetry chapbook So Many Flowers, So Little Time from Red Mare Press. Between the Spine is a collection of erotic love poems published with Picture Show Press, and La Belle Ajar, a collection of cento poems inspired by Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel, will be published in 2020 by CLASH Books. Adrian is an LA poet who has a BA from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is also a graduate of the MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. You can connect with Adrian on his website at adrianernestocepeda.com.
“Social Spacing” by J Hirtle
J Hirtle is the author of six short story collections, including Buttons, a riveting story of good versus evil. He is a budding poet, perceiving an economy of words is often more telling. He lives in New Braunfels, Texas, where he just completed his latest collection of short stories and flash fiction, A Red Dress Night. You can find him online at addictedtofaith.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @JHirtle_Author.
“Third Planet” by Morgan Russell
Morgan Russell is a rhetorician, poet, and the creative writing editor for Marías at Sampaguitas. Her work may be found in a number of places. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found mainlining coffee and mimosas or working in web support until she becomes Fully Realized and transcends this plane of existence (i.e., is able to move out of her dad’s house and go to grad school).
“The Clementine Seeds” by Carl Alexandersson
Carl Alexandersson is a queer writer and performance poet. He is pursuing his undergraduate degree in English language and literature at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His work has been published in Time and Tide: Stories and Poems from Solstice Shorts Festival 2019, Lies, Dreaming podcast, The Inkwell, and more.
“To My Son” by Claire Taylor
Claire Taylor has had poetry featured in Yellow Arrow Journal and The Loch Raven Review. Her writing about motherhood and depression has previously appeared on Scary Mommy. She is the creator of Little Thoughts, a monthly newsletter featuring original stories and poems for children. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and can be found online at clairemtaylor.com.
“I am 35 weeks pregnant and burdened” by Victoria Schofield Dobbs
Victoria Schofield Dobbs is an MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the Young Voices editor for Chautauqua.
“Vernal Equinox Lockdown” by Jane Ellen Glasser
Jane Ellen Glasser has poetry published in numerous journals, such as Hudson Review, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Georgia Review. In the past she reviewed poetry books for the Virginian-Pilot, edited poetry for the Ghent Quarterly and Lady Jane’s Miscellany, and cofounded the nonprofit arts organization and journal New Virginia Review. She won The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry in 2005 for her collection Light Persists, and The Long Life won the Poetica Publishing Company Chapbook Contest in 2011. Her most recent collections, In the Shadow of Paradise (2017) and Jane Ellen Glasser: Selected Poems (2019), are available from FutureCycle Press and Amazon. To preview her work and access her books, visit janeellenglasser.com.
“Contagious Realization” by Tarusi Jain
Tarusi Jain is a seventeen-year-old student from Hyderabad, India, pursuing a law degree. She likes to read and write poems and short stories.
“The Country Is on Lockdown” by Connor Harrison
Connor Harrison writes short stories, essays, and poetry. His work has appeared at Literary Hub, Anthropocene, Jam & Sand Journal, and The Critical Flame. He is based in the West Midlands, United Kingdom.
“Containment” by John Mungiello
John Mungiello is the author of Streamlining Oblivion, available on Amazon. He is working on two new works of poems and short stories and works as a high school art and special education teacher. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and dog.
“Blackbird Poem” by Megan Mary Moore
Megan Mary Moore is the author of Dwellers (Unsolicited Press, 2019). Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Rogue Agent, and Capulet Magazine. She lives in Cincinnati where she teaches dance and talks to ghosts. You can read her work at meganmarymoore.com.
“Apocalypses (Don’t) Start This Way” by Sarah James
Sarah James is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist, and photographer based in the United Kingdom. Her latest titles include How to Grow Matches (Against the Grain Poetry Press) and plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press), both shortlisted in the international Rubery Book Awards. You can find her online at sarah-james.co.uk.
“The Evening Chorus” by Kaylyssa Quinn
Kaylyssa Quinn lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poems have been published in tinywords, Furious Season, Six Sentences,and in partnership with Hades Wool.
“The Space Between Us” by Susan Coultrap-McQuin
Susan Coultrap-McQuin lives in Victoria, Minnesota, where she enjoys writing, gardening, and grandchildren. She returned to her early love of poetry writing when she retired from a career in higher education as a faculty member and administrator. Her everyday life often spills over into her poetry, as it does in these poems on coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“endless bowls of sky” by Amy Shimshon-Santo
Amy Shimshon-Santo is writer and educator from Dogtown, a place that no longer exists. Her poetry collection Even the Milky Way Is Undocumented is forthcoming with Unsolicited Press (September 2020). She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in creative nonfiction (2017), nominated for Best of the Net in poetry (2018), and recognized on the national Honor Roll for Service Learning. Her work has been published by Yes Poetry, Zócalo Public Square, Anti-Heroin Chic, Rag Queen Periodical, SAGE Publications, Entropy, Public, Tiferet Journal, UC Press, and SUNY Press, among others. Connect with her at amyshimshon.com.
Read our interview with Amy Shimshon-Santo about her erasure poetry and writing through COVID-19.
“Dear Future” by Sarah Marquez
Sarah Marquez (she/her) is an MA candidate at Southern New Hampshire University. She is based in Los Angeles and has work published and forthcoming in various magazines and journals, including Human/Kind, Kissing Dynamite, The River, and Twist in Time Magazine. When not writing, she can be found reading for The Winnow and Random Sample Review, sipping coffee, or tweeting at @Sarahmarissa338.
“Plague Interlude” by Katy Scrogin
Katy Scrogin is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and translator. Her most recent work is featured in Sobotka Literary Magazine, The Book Smuggler’s Den, The Bookends Review, and Bearings Online. She can also be found at katyscrogin.wordpress.com.
“But Not for Us” by Josh Rank
Josh Rank graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and has had stories published in The Emerson Review, The Feathertale Review, Hypertext Magazine, and elsewhere. He’s currently hiding in an undisclosed location just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. More ramblings can be found at joshrank.com.
“March 29, 2020” by April Bayer
April Bayer graduated with a BA in English and theology from Concordia University, Nebraska. Her work has previously appeared in Potpourri. She is an instructor and MA student in English literature at the University of South Dakota.
“I Want My Dad to Come Pick Me Up” by Mary DeCarlo
Mary DeCarlo is a writer living in Astoria, New York. She mainly writes plays but also writes poetry and short fiction. Her poem “Nursery Rhyme” was in Issue IV of Detritus. Her plays have been seen in London, Germany, Philadelphia, and New York City. She is a cocreator of the web series Everyone Else Has and cohosts a Dawson’s Creek themed podcast called Dawson Cries with her big sister. She has an MA in text and performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Birkbeck University of London.
“an experience of stillness” by Natasha Lioe
Natasha Lioe graduated with a BA in narrative studies from University of Southern California. She’s always had an affinity for words and stories and emotions. Her work has appeared in Adsum Literary Magazine and Capsule Stories, and she won the Edward B. Moses Creative Writing Competition in 2016. Her greatest strength is finding and focusing the pathos in an otherwise cold world, and she hopes to help humans tell their unique, compelling stories.
“End Walter” by Gabriel da Silva-Schicchi
Gabriel da Silva-Schicchi is a Brazilian-American writer based in San Francisco. He is looking for a home for his novel about a country star who gets lost in Rio de Janeiro with her estranged husband.
“The Place” by Nicola Ashbrook
Nicola Ashbrook is a new writer from the northwest of England, where she lives with a gaggle of boys, cats, and a dog. She is supposed to be redrafting her first novel but has developed an all-consuming addiction to flash fiction, which continually draws her back. She can be found tweeting at @NicolaAWrites and blogging at nicolalostinnarration.weebly.com.
“The Twenty-Second Rule” by Diana Clark
Diana Clark is a 2019 alumni of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where they graduated with their MFA in fiction. They are the recipient of the LGBTQ+ writer scholarship for The Muse & the Marketplace 2019, a partial scholarship recipient to Sundress Academy for the Arts, and a 2020 candidate for the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Their work has appeared in BULL, Press Pause Press, Lunch Ticket, Rust + Moth, and more. They live in Wilmington, North Carolina, with their adopted cat, Emily D.
“A Letter to a Stranger” by T.C. Anderson
T.C. Anderson is a writer and poet based in Houston, Texas, with work published or forthcoming in literary journals The Metaworker and Infinity’s Kitchen, as well as Zimbell House Publishing anthology The Dead Game. She is working on a poetry collection entitled The Forest, to be published in 2020, accompanying an art installation of the same name. When not writing, she is an award-winning graphic designer at Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas. She lives in Houston with her husband, Jared.
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