Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition

Featuring poems, stories, and essays, Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition reflects on the isolation we’ve experienced this past year in the pandemic. Read about connecting with strangers over Zoom meetups, feeling trapped in your apartment, drifting apart and falling back in love with your partner, watching your child forget what the world was like before all this, learning to love your body again, running in the heat just to feel something, screaming into the sky because it’s been a day. Within this literary magazine’s pages are words to help you feel less alone during this lonely and isolating time.

Our aim is to make Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition accessible for readers all over the world, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. The ebook version of this edition is $0.99 (the lowest we can price it through IngramSpark).

We want to support marginalized writers and work to make publishing more accessible. If you are a marginalized writer and would like to read Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition, please email us at submissions@capsulestories.com and we will send you a free PDF of the edition.

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 bookstoresand Capsule Stories!

Letter from the Editors

When we published Capsule Stories Isolation Edition in mid-April 2020, we thought the coronavirus pandemic would be over within a few months. We wrote in the edition’s letter from the editor: “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.”

Over a year later, in summer 2021, the pandemic is still ongoing. The virus has claimed more and more lives and left countless people sick, hurt, and broken. Our lives have changed forever. Once again, we are searching for words to describe how we are getting through this and how we are surviving. Our first Isolation Edition captured our immediate stories and feelings about the first month of the pandemic. Now, we want to go deeper and explore how our lives have been changed, how we’ve changed, after living in the pandemic for more than a year.

Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition

You think of how naive you were just a year ago. How worried you were about things like running out of toilet paper, your career never recovering, your loved ones falling deathly ill. You’re still anxious, but it feels different now. It feels longer. Less urgent, less panicked. 

Days melt into weeks. You open your laptop one groggy Saturday morning thinking it’s Thursday. You place your laptop at the foot of your bed and sleep upside down, just to add some variety to your life. Is it too risky to go get a haircut? When was the last time you saw a stranger smile at you? These are the questions nowadays—forget about the experience you should be capturing. Now, all you know is that awkward silence before the video call ends, as you frantically try to press the button, wearing a fake smile on your face.

But one venture outside will tell you that even though it felt like your life had paused, the rest of the world kept moving. People you know, or don’t know, have been lost forever. There’s noisy construction on streets you knew intimately, new restaurants replacing your old favorite ones. People are going out as if nothing happened. You feel like the only person who remembers what life was like before, what life is like now. But you’ll never forget how the world changed, how you changed. How alone you felt. You will always remember this.

Capsule Stories Second Isolation Edition Contents and Contributors

“Number Nine” by Alicia Aitken

Alicia Aitken lives in Essex, United Kingdom, and loves to write short stories. Alicia is a busy mother, paddleboarder, avid reader, and traveler. You can follow Alicia on Twitter at @aliciaaitken01.

“An Ode to My Long Hair” by Bethool Zehra Haider

Bethool Zehra Haider is a law student from California. She enjoys writing about the moon, shades of purple, and peonies. Find her at @bethoolzehra.

“Car in Reverse” by D. H. Valdez

D. H. Valdez teaches social studies and humanities at his former high school. He holds a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Washington. He and his wife Holly grew up together in Seattle and continue to live in the city with their son. Valdez has previously been published in Lunch Ticket, The Citron Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Lost Balloon. He desperately awaits the return of the Seattle SuperSonics.

“Orphan” by Casey McConahay

Casey McConahay has work published in december, Lake Effect, and Southern Humanities Review. He lives in northwest Ohio.

“The Heat” 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.

“Happily Ever After” by Linda McMullen

Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick Wisconsinite. Her short stories and the occasional poem have appeared in over ninety literary magazines. She received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations in 2020. She may be found on Twitter at @LindaCMcMullen.

Nonfiction

“The Epley Maneuver” by Kelle Schillaci Clarke

Kelle Schillaci Clarke is a Seattle-based writer with deep LA roots. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Superstition Review, Pidgeonholes, Barren Magazine, Lunate, Cotton Xenomorph, and Bending Genres. She is on Twitter at @kelle224.

“Self-Storage” by Kelly Q. Anderson

Kelly Q. Anderson is a writer and journalist for lifestyle publications. She served as a newspaper columnist for six years until the pandemic torpedoed local news. Presently, she is a student at Cornell University’s eCornell (Diversity and Inclusion Program), as well as StoryStudio in Chicago. She is an active member of Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop and holds two degrees from the University of Iowa.

“Drinking Full Moon Blend During a Pandemic 900 Miles Away from Home” by Mel Lake

Mel Lake lives in Denver with a partner, chronic pain, and a very good dog. She has an English BA and an MS in technical communication. She is a technical writer in the corporate world by day and a creative writer the rest of the time. Her first publication is forthcoming in The Human Touch.

“How to Recycle Your Worry” by Chandra Steele

Chandra Steele is a writer and journalist from New York. Her work has appeared in No Contact, Wigleaf, Storm Cellar, Ample Remains, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Entropy, and others. Rick Moody once said she wrote the best description of a racetrack he has ever read. She has never been to a racetrack. More of her writing can be found at chandrasteele.com.

Poetry

“Broken Faucet” and “Totally Fine” by Paulette K. Fire

Paulette K. Fire is a writer in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has appeared in Harvard Review, Carve Magazine, The Pinch, The Jewish Literary Journal, Lilith, and Alaska Quarterly Review (forthcoming). Her essay “Presumably Murdered” was chosen as a notable essay by The Best American Essays 2019.

“Sand Stories” and “Bookmarks” by Jan Chronister

Jan Chronister is a retired writing teacher with more time on her hands than she ever expected. She has published four chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections and currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find her online at janchronisterpoetry.wordpress.com.

“Now and Then” and “Quarantine” by Deborah Purdy

Deborah Purdy lives outside Philadelphia where she writes poetry and creates fiber art. She is the author of Mermaids in the Basement (dancing girl press, 2021). Her work has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, American Poetry Journal, Heron Tree, Mom Egg Review, and other publications.

“Open for Business” by Beth Morrow

Beth Morrow is an author, teacher, and memoirist who lives in Ohio. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, the Brevity blog, JMWW, Small Leaf Press, and the Columbus Dispatch. Connect with her on Twitter at @Buckeye_BethM, on Instagram at @Buckeye_BethM, or her blog, BethMorrow.blog, where she writes about the intersection of writing and life.

“Goddess of Knife and Stove” by Melissa Sussens

Melissa Sussens (she/her) is a queer South African veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in Germ Magazine, Ja. Magazine, Odd Magazine, and The Sock Drawer, among others. She is a small animal vet by day and by night a poet and editor involved in Megan Falley’s Poems That Don’t Suck online writing courses. She lives in Cape Town with her girlfriend and their two dogs. Find her on Instagram at @melissasussens.

“Don’t Press Play Without Me” and “I Can’t Even Find It in Me to Water the Flowers” by Teya Hollier

Teya Hollier (she/her) is a mixed raced Black woman living in Toronto, Ontario. She is a recent graduate of York University’s creative writing program, in which she won both the Babs Burggraf Award and the Judith Eve Gewurtz award during her studies. Her writing aims to confront racial oppression, mental illness, and generational trauma. She loves horror movies and is currently working on a collection of short horror stories that are allegorical explorations of the Black experience.

“Metamorphosis” by Ashley Huynh

Ashley Huynh is a senior at UCLA studying psychobiology and minoring in professional writing. When she is not doing clinical research, teaching undergraduate life science, or working as a medical assistant, she loves to write personal essays and creative fiction. Check out her work on Instagram at @huyblogs.

“A Year Unspent” and “I Have Unlearned My Body” by Sukriti Lakhtakia

Sukriti Lakhtakia is currently pursuing her master’s in literature at Shiv Nadar University, India. Lately, she has been preoccupied with birds and, in particular, with the Indian gray hornbill, which eludes her. She writes at riutski.wordpress.com.

“Everything Holy,” “A Tuesday Pandemic Love Song,” and “Eleventh Month” by Jenne Hsien Patrick

Jenne Hsien Patrick (she/they) is a writer and an artist currently based in Seattle. She incorporates text into textiles, papercutting, and stop action animation and creates spaces for healing and storytelling in her community. Jenne has work published or forthcoming from the Asian American Literary Review and wildness. You can find her online at jennehsienpatrick.com.

“March,” “Community Garden, Wisconsin, Nine Months Pregnant,” “2020 Falls,” and “Lost Touch” by Hannah Marshall

Hannah Marshall lives in south-central Illinois, where she works as the advising editor for Greenville University’s literary journal, The Scriblerus, and as the poetry editor for Converse College’s literary journal, South 85 Journal. Marshall’s poem “This Is a Love Poem to Trees” will appear in The Best American Poetry 2021. Her poems have also been published in Poetry Daily, New Ohio Review, The South Carolina Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in creative writing from Converse College.

“Lament for March Madness and Remote Learning” and “Infestation” by Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry—all hoping to create home. He and his wife live beside a dilapidated orchard in Indiana, where he tries to shape dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been featured in Whale Road Review, River Mouth Review, Club Plum Journal, and Ekstasis Magazine.

“survival plan,” “sounds like a hospital,” and “Because We Said So” by Annie Powell Stone

Annie Powell Stone (she/her) has a BA in English from the University of Maryland and an MS in urban education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Door Is a Jar, Rising Phoenix Review, and Second Chance Lit, among others. She loves peanut butter toast and summer mornings. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband and two kiddos. Read more of her poetry on Instagram at @anniepowellstone.

“The Way the World Was” by Talya Jankovits

Talya Jankovits’s work has appeared in a number of literary journals. Her micro piece “Bus Stop in Morning” was a winner of a writing challenge from Beyond Words Magazine. Her short story “Undone” in Lunch Ticket was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poem “A Woman of Valor” was featured in the 2019/2020 Eshet Hayil exhibit at Hebrew Union College Los Angeles. She holds her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University and resides in Chicago with her husband and four daughters.

“Joy,” “Summer,” “A Tragedy Unfolding,” and “Morning Song” by Brett Thompson

Brett Thompson has been writing poetry since his graduate days at the University of New Hampshire, where he earned an MA in English writing with a concentration in poetry. He has been published in various journals, including Plainsongs, Tilde, District Lit, The Literary Nest, and Cobalt Review. He teaches and lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two young daughters.

“I Live on This Island That I’ve Created,” “Walking on Water,” and “In Isolation” by Mark Martyre

Mark Martyre is a Canadian writer and musician. He released six full-length studio albums between 2012 and 2019. He’s received nominations for Toronto’s Best Songwriter and has also written songs for a play that went on to be performed in Toronto and at the SpringWorks Festival in Stratford. Also a published poet, Mark has been published in literary journals and online magazines such as Capsule Stories, Spadina Literary Review, The Mystic Blue Review, Twist in Time, Verdancies, Postcard Shorts, and Aberration Labyrinth. In 2019, Mark self-published a collection of poetry.

“Rent/Relief” by Glennys Egan

Glennys Egan was raised in the Canadian prairies and now lives in Ottawa, where she works for the government like everyone else. Her poetry appeared in Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition. She has also been published or is forthcoming in Taco Bell Quarterly, Funicular Magazine, The Aurora Journal, and several other lovely places. You can find her and her dog, Boris, online at @gleegz.

“In a Time of Pandemic” by John Jeffire

John Jeffire was born in Detroit. In 2005, his novel Motown Burning was named Grand Prize Winner in the Mount Arrowsmith Novel Competition, and in 2007 it won a Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishing Awards. His first book of poetry, Stone + Fist + Brick + Bone, was nominated for a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2009. His most recent book, Shoveling Snow in a Snowstorm, a poetry chapbook, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. For more on the author and his work, visit writeondetroit.com.

“Nest” and “Now That the End Is in Sight” by James Croal Jackson

James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino American poet working in film production. He has one chapbook and two forthcoming: Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), Count Seeds with Me (Ethel, 2022), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at jamescroaljackson.com.

“the possum” and “the word shifts from its axis” by harps mclean

harps mclean is a husband, father, poet, and painter. His relationship with language is complicated. They mostly tolerate each other with foregoing jealousy, distrust, and a one-sided codependency. His poems have appeared in Stickman Review, The Cape Rock, and Sugar House Review.

“Twenty Minutes” by Rae Rozman

Rae Rozman (she/her) is a poet and educator in Texas. Her poetry, which often explores themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), loss, and education, has been published in several literary magazines and anthologies. An avid reader, you can often find her curled up in a sunny corner with a mug of coffee, a big white bunny, and a novel. You can find her on Instagram sharing poems, book reviews, and pictures of her two adorable rescue bunnies at @mistress_of_mnemosyne.

“The Measureless In-Between” and “Last Days of the Old World” by Steve Head

Steve Head is a poet and novelist from the leafy dullness of the London suburbs. He started writing poetry as an attempt to decrypt the unfathomable weirdness of adolescence and continued when he realized that it made him appear somewhat cooler than he actually is. Steve’s debut poetry collection Blueprints is available now via Amazon.

“Distance Between Us” by James Roach

James Roach (he/him) is a trans poet in Olympia, Washington, who does his best work between the hours of up-too-late and is-it-even-worth-trying-to-sleep? His latest work can be found in Google Drive gathering dust while he makes edits and wonders if this time warp will ever end.

“In Orbit at El Camino Hospital” by Avalon Felice Lee

Avalon Felice Lee is an Asian American Californian. Her work is published or forthcoming in Kissing Dynamite, JUST POETRY, Right Hand Pointing, Bluefire, Plum Recruit Mag, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Leyla Beban Young Writers Foundation, National Poetry Quarterly, The Lumiere Review, and Ringling, among others. You can find her and her kitten, Esky, on Instagram at @avalonfelicelee.

“Sheltering” by Lisa Romano Licht

Lisa Romano Licht is a lifelong New Yorker who writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Ovunque Siamo, Mom Egg Review, and The Westchester Review. Her prose poem “Dead Birds Everywhere” is forthcoming in the Train River COVID-19 anthology. She holds an MA in writing from Manhattanville College. Find her on Twitter at @LRLwrites.

“Outside of Time,” “While You Wait,” and “Delivery” by Carol Mikoda

Carol Mikoda used to teach writing and new teachers. Some of her work has appeared in Grief Becomes You, Acta Victoriana, and Children, Churches and Daddies. She lives in upstate New York where she walks in the woods, photographs clouds or treetops, sings, and plays guitar as often as possible.

“Squalor” by Shiksha Dheda

Shiksha Dheda uses poetry (mostly) to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures. Mostly, however, she writes in the hopes that someday, someone will see her as she is: an incomplete poem. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Off Menu Press, The Daily Drunk, Kalahari Review, Brave Voices Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Versification, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter at @ShikshaWrites.

“I’m Seldom Short on Inspiration” by Xavier Reyna

Xavier Reyna is a poet from the Rio Grande Valley.

“Eggs” by Mo Lynn Stoycoff

Mo Lynn Stoycoff is an autodidactic poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Now, Rise Up Review, South Broadway Ghost Society, California Quarterly, Speckled Trout Review, and other journals and anthologies. Mo works in the performing arts and lives on the colonized land of the Patwin people in Central California.

“Glass Half Full” and “Normal Life” by Steve Denehan

Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland, with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. He is the author of two chapbooks and two poetry collections. Twice winner of Irish Times’ New Irish Writing, his numerous publication credits include Poetry Ireland Review, Acumen, Prairie Fire, Westerly, and Into the Void. He has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poet, and the Pushcart Prize.

“Social Distancing” and “Martial Rounds” by Jan Philippe V. Carpio

Jan Philippe “JP” V. Carpio is a writer and filmmaker living in the Philippines. His writing has been published in national publications like Philippine Graphic and the Philippine Star. His films have been screened and cited at various local and international film festivals. He teaches at the digital filmmaking program of the College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts and the film program of MINT College.

“Parallel Online Funerals” by Angel Chacon Orozco

Angel Chacon Orozco is a video creator and editor with a background in journalism that lives in a queer community in the Netherlands. He discovered the joys of poetry studying at the International Writers’ Collective in Amsterdam, and in his daily life he enjoys all shapes of writing, film, and fermentation of crooked courgettes.

“This Is a Test” by Barbara Simmons

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston and now resides in San Jose, California. The two coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins. Retired, she savors smaller parts of life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and try to understand more. Her poem “This Is a Test” arises from the many ways our quarantining has pushed us to listen more closely, and incessantly, to warnings about our world’s and our health. Publications have included Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories, and Perspectives on KQED, the NPR local affiliate.

“07/2020,” “skin on skin,” and “washington monuments” by Zoe Cunniffe

Zoe Cunniffe is a poet and singer-songwriter from Washington, DC. She has previously been published in literary journals such as Blue Marble Review, New Reader Magazine, Doghouse Press, and Velvet Fields. Zoe can be found on Instagram at @there.are.stillbeautifulthings.

Publication Credits

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

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