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Capsule Stories Autumn 2020 Edition

Featuring autumnal poems and prose by emerging and established writers, Capsule Stories Autumn 2020 Edition explores the theme Burning Up. Read about revealing a burning secret deep inside you, a ghost rising from the ashes, falling in love in the heat of the moment. Read about trauma, heartaches, and grief and letting it all burn into ashes. In this 180-page literary magazine, you’ll find the words you need to comfort and warm you, to spark a new flame in you during this autumn season.

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Burning Up

Your eyes are locked onto the flames as they flicker, their mesmerizing dance holding your attention, making you remember. Fire can remind us of what we have lost. But fire can also help us forget as we burn our memories into ashes. A memory of falling in love in the heat of the moment. Of a handprint seared onto your thigh. Of childhood trauma, of heartaches, of grief. The wind blows thick smoke your way, choking you. Embers spiral into the sky, and you watch, entranced. You remember the things that should have never been burned, of a fire that you have kept inside yourself all this time, afraid to show others, afraid of how it defines you.

The world burns around you, and sometimes it feels like you are burning too. But it is comforting, almost, knowing that all your shame, your mistakes, your accomplishments, they will all burn into ashes. You can let go.

Capsule Stories Autumn 2020 Edition: Letter from the Editors

Oftentimes we use literature and art as an escape. Pretty words, abstract emotions, surreal landscapes. But between the lines is a truth, and the truth is that we are in a world in which the streets are burning, our calmness is engulfed in flames of anger and wrath and disappointment. It is hard to live in, but this is what we’ve been given. So we make art in an attempt to quell the flames. The heat seeps from our fingertips and stains the page as we try to make sense and find meaning in the suffering. But burning and heat aren’t always bad. After a fire comes growth, renewal, a fresh start. We hope you find words in these pages that speak to you and provide the comfort, the warmth, the catharsis you need.
—Natasha Lioe, Founder and Publisher, and Carolina VonKampen, Publisher and Editor in Chief

Capsule Stories Autumn 2020 Edition Contents and Contributors


“Last Year’s Leaves” by Maggie Wang

Maggie Wang is an undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Her writing has appeared in K’in, Alexandria Quarterly, and Ruminate, among others, and is forthcoming in Shards and Nightingale & Sparrow. She has also won awards from The Poetry Society and Folger Shakespeare Library. When not writing, she enjoys playing the piano and exploring nature.

“Was Autumn Always My Antidote to Summer?” 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. 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, envision, celebrate, mourn, and, always, to try to understand more about being and living and expressing her identity and human-ity. Publications have included, among others, The Quince, Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories Isolation Edition, and Perspectives on KQED, the NPR local affiliate.

“Autumn, Arson and Attrition,” “Dusk,” “Why Her Hair Is Fire,” and “Ricordanze” by Emma Keanie

Emma Keanie is a PhD researcher in Samuel Beckett studies at the University of Reading. She has a master of arts and bachelor of arts in English literature from Ulster University and is a reviewer for The Beckett Circle. Her poetry is published in Capsule Stories, and she has a one-act play published in the Qutub Minar Review. Emma is interested in the shapes and sounds of poetry, how thoughts can drift silently staining the page.

“Bonfire” by Camila Contreras-Langlois

Camila Contreras-Langlois is a travel and fiction writer from Canada based in Scotland. She is working on her first novel and writing narrative nonfiction stories and poems based on her Latinx heritage and travels. Her first flash fiction was published online by the Scottish Book Trust.

“Autumn Reflections” by P.J. Reed

P. J. Reed is a writer and poet from England. She holds a BAEd from Canterbury Christ Church University and an MA from Bradford University and has dabbled in psychology with the OU. She lives in Devon with two daughters, two rescue hounds, and a feral cat called Sammy. Reed is an outrageously eclectic writer. Her poetry has appeared in a wide variety of online and print magazines, anthologies, and collections. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the National Poetry Anthology award. In 2018, P.J. won the Forward Press Poetry Circle of Life competition for her poem “The Empty Chair.” P.J. Reed is on Twitter at @PJReed_author and Instagram at @pjreedwriter.

“Flame” and “Trickster” by Gerry Stewart

Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor, and editor based in Finland. Her poetry collection Post-Holiday Blues was published by Flambard Press. In 2019 she won the Selected or Neglected Book Collection Competition with Hedgehog Poetry Press for her collection Totems, to be published in 2020. Her writing blog can be found at, and she can be found at @grimalkingerry on Twitter.

“Burn-Dance” and “Anew” by Lucy Tyrrell

Lucy Tyrrell writes poems that are primarily inspired by nature and wild landscapes, outdoor pursuits, family stories, and travel. In 2016, after sixteen years in Alaska, she traded a big mountain (Denali) for a big lake (Lake Superior). Lucy lives near Bayfield, Wisconsin. Her favorite verbs to live by are “experience” and “create.” She is Bayfield’s Poet Laureate for 2020–2021.

“heave / cough” by Michelle Cadiz

Michelle Cadiz is a poet from the Philippines. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in biology.

“The Tigress” by Q. M. Saiyed

Q. M. Saiyed teaches English language and literature in Birmingham, United Kingdom. She has worked on creative pieces ever since she can remember. Her first published poem was for a Young Writers competition at age thirteen. She has since had several poems published, three by Forward Press for Poetry Rivals’ collections and in the war and conflict collection The World at War. Q. M. Saiyed is working on a novel and hopes to continue writing both poetry and prose for many years to come.

“For Those Who Make Homes out of Burning Buildings” by Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards is a poet based in Nashville, Tennessee, where she spends her time drinking too much hot chocolate. She has work published or forthcoming in The WEIGHT Journal, Literary Yard, Rebelle Society, Spillwords, Teen Belle Magazine, The Magnolia Review, Kissing Dynamite, and Dreich. She is an intern at Southern Word, where she hopes to grow her abilities as a writer in hopes of one day becoming a renowned poet.

“molten apologies” by Grace Alice Evans

Grace Alice Evans (she/they) is an LGBTQ+, mixed-heritage poet, writer, sound/visual artist, and survivor whose work explores living with mental illness, trauma, recovery, and the dichotomy between the inner and outer worlds. Grace’s social media handle is @gracealiceevans.

“Skin and Brain” and “The Pyre, Waiting” by Andrew Kasey

Andrew Kasey is a young writer who was born and raised in Belgium but now studies English literature in the United Kingdom. Andrew will read and write anything, but his preferred genres are horror, poetry, and nonfiction. Some of his other works have been published in Sonder Magazine, LGBTQ Survivors Zine, Butter Magazine, Red Zine, and Honeymag.

“Elemental” by Aurora Smith

Aurora Smith is a writer and poet who is never without a book and a pen in her purse. Her poetry is her process, and as much as her words are her therapy, she hopes they resonate with her readers too. She thinks Halloween is the best holiday (ever) and adores all things spooky. You can visit her at

“Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Canna” and “Whatever Else Poetry Is Burning” by Sarah Hilton

Sarah Hilton is a queer poet from Scarborough, Ontario, whose work is featured or forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2, Hart House Review, Mnerva Literary Journal, FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology, Cypress, IthacaLit, and elsewhere. She is a master of information student at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, and she is compiling a collection of poetry.

“Don’t Blink,” “gutted,” “Skin Graft,” and “platoon” by Julia Farney

Julia Farney is an angsty therapist prone to sporadic existential crises and spontaneous travels across the country. She makes questionable art to cope with her existence and listens to too much surf punk.

“Keeping Warm” by Julie Linh Nguyen

Julie Linh Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American poet, social worker, and advocate for youth in Orange County where she was born and raised. She graduated in 2017 with an English degree from Chapman University. As an artist, she draws from her personal experiences to explore the dichotomous nature of love and human connection.

“Slow Progress” by Mary Ford Neal 

Mary Ford Neal lives near Glasgow, in the United Kingdom, where she works as an academic at the University of Strathclyde, teaching, researching, and writing about medical law and ethics. Themes in her current poetry include transitional spaces, edges, magical landscapes, pop culture of the 1980s, the sacred in all its forms, afterlives, pain and enlightenment, and the relationships between human bodies and the natural environment. Her poetry has been published in Ink Sweat and Tears and Dust Poetry Magazine, and she tweets (often about poetry) at @maryfordneal.

“Memories Live with Us” by Emmanuel Ojeikhodion

Emmanuel Ojeikhodion is a young Nigerian writer who majors in poetry. He is studying for a degree in English and literature at the University of Benin, Southern Nigeria. He has poems published in literary journals including Praxis Magazine, The Pangolin Review, Déraciné Magazine, Kalahari Review, African Writer, and elsewhere. Say hello to him on Twitter at @hermynuel.

“It’s True, Everything Is Alive” and “I Swallow the Embers” by Miriam Navarro Prieto

Miriam Navarro Prieto (she/her) is a Spanish artist who drifted from performance art to drawing and is now focused on writing poems and short stories on autobiography, ecology, and queerness. She also loves writing in English and playing with language. Her first poetry chapbook Todo está vivo (Everything Is Alive) will be self-published soon. Her work appears on Queer.Archive.Work’s Urgency Reader 2.

“At Their Fingertips” and “Hands on Legs, on Bodies” Rosa Canales

Rosa Canales is a recent graduate of Denison University in Ohio. Her poetry has recently appeared in Capsule Stories, Lammergeier, and perhappened mag.

“Blue” 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, Reservoir, and Rattle. He edits The Mantle Poetry ( He works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Find him online at

“The Myth of Sisyphus” by Jasmina Kuenzli

Jasmina Kuenzli is an author of poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys running, weightlifting, and dancing. Her life goals include landing a backflip, getting legally adopted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and winning a swordfight. She would like to thank Brenna and Sarah, who hear all these stories first, and Harry Styles, who is sunshine distilled in a human being.

“Red Tree” by James Madigan

James Madigan is the father of three daughters, a librarian, professor of humanities, and writer. His poetry has been published in The Typescript, The Tiger Moth Review, Necro, and Believers Bail Out. He will be published in the fall 2020 issue of the Owen Wister Review. James lives in Oak Park, Illinois.

“Three Love Letters for Lady Liberty’s Toes” by Eli Vandell

Eli Vandell is a queer poet and writer from the Washington, DC area. They are the recipient of the 2020 Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Prize from George Mason University and the Academy of American Poets. Their work is featured in Pussy Magic, Entropy, and Feral. They like writing about queerness, animals, and occasionally androids.

“Itemizing My Identity,” “Collective Shame,” and “In Diaspora” by Rhea Dhanbhoora

Rhea Dhanbhoora worked for close to a decade as an editor and writer in print and digital content for a variety of clients before quitting her job, moving to New York to get her master’s degree, and finally writing the stories everyone told her no one would ever read. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as The Hindu, The Quint, Apeiron Review, sPARKLE & bLINK, Five on the Fifth, Capsule Stories, Fly on the Wall Press, HerStry, Artsy, Broccoli, and JMWW. She’s currently working on a linked collection about women based in the underrepresented Parsi Zoroastrian diaspora.

“Glossolalia” and “Brightness-Emitted Bodies” by Jericho Hockett

Jericho Hockett’s roots are in the farm in Kansas, and she is blooming in Topeka with Eddy and Evelynn. She earned her PhD in social psychology at Kansas State University but is a forever student. She is also a poet, teacher, and especially a seeker who is most whole in the green—whether in garden, field, forest, or heart. She has poems forthcoming from South Broadway Ghost Society and Pussy Magic and poems appearing in Burning House Press; Snakeroot: A Midwest Resistance ’Zine; Ichabods Speak Out: Poems in the Age of Me, Too; SageWoman; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity; and Touchstone. More works are always brewing.

“How We Kill” and “Consequences of Burning” by Stuti Pachisia

Stuti Pachisia is an academic and writer based out of Kolkata, India. Her previous work has been published in The Alipore Post, Cleaver Magazine, Kindle Magazine, and She tweets at @steewtweets.

“Death of a Fire” by Barbara A Meier

Barbara A Meier recently retired from teaching and Oregon and moved to Colorado to spend time with her mom. Her first microchapbook Wildfire LAL6 came out the summer of 2019 from Ghost City Press. Getting through Gold Beach came out in November 2019 from Writing Knights Press. She has been published in The Poeming Pigeon, TD;LR Press Women’s Anthology: Catching Fire, and The Fourth River. You can find her online at and on Facebook at @poetwholivedbythesea.

“Gods and Cockroaches” by Subin Lee

Subin Lee is a Korean American writer living in California. She is in her third year of pursuing a BA in history.

“Threading the Blazes” by Brian Rihlmann

Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry and has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. His first poetry collection, Ordinary Trauma, was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2019.

“notes from the bottom of the ocean” by TaNia Donatto

TaNia Donatto is a poet from Southeast Texas and an undergraduate student at Stanford University. She intends on majoring in engineering but has a deep love for poetry. Her other interests include dance, theater, learning from people’s stories, and accessibility in education. She also has work in Neuro Logical, NECTAR POETRY, and 433 Magazine. TaNia can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @taniadonatto_.


“Retreat” by Claire Taylor

Claire Taylor is a writer of poetry, short fiction, and the occasional essay. She makes up stories for kids in her monthly newsletter, Little Thoughts, and has written several picture books that are searching for a publishing home. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Kissing Dynamite, Capsule Stories, American Writers Review, perhappened mag, and more. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Canneto di Caronia” by Renee Agatep

Renee Agatep is an American poet and short story writer living in Florida. Renee earned her master’s at Northeastern University and currently studies creative writing at the University of Central Florida. Her newest flash can be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, FlashFlood, Ellipsis Zine, and perhappened mag. She can be found on Twitter at @GoingbyRenee.

“Sublimation” by Carol McGill

Carol McGill lives in Dublin. Her short stories have been published in Sonder Magazine, Crannóg, Number Eleven Magazine, Silver Apples Magazine and the anthology Words to Tie to Bricks. She has also had work appear in the online magazines Q/A Poetry, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Rookie, and Germ. She was the 2019–2020 chairperson of Trinity Literary Society. She tweets at @WordsByCarolx.

“The Knocking Ghost” by Kyle Tam

Kyle Tam is a transport planner by day and an author by night, based in the Philippines. Her work has previously been published in Monstronomicon, The Cabinet of Heed, and 100 Words of Solitude and is forthcoming in Rejection Lit and Murder Park After Dark Vol. 3. She’s afraid of fire and ghosts. One phobia has improved over time. The other has not.

“Burn” by Darcie Abbene

Darcie Abbene is an adjunct instructor at Northern Vermont University and the managing and nonfiction editor at Green Mountains Review. Recently published in Portrait of New England, Darcie is working on a novel and is a student in the Stonecoast MFA program.

“Vacuum” by Peter Gardiner

Peter Gardiner has produced two plays at Brighton Fringe, was shortlisted by New Writing South, and won Best Theatre from International Youth Arts Festival. He has a sci-fi podcast, Whisper through the Static, and has been published in Popshot Quarterly, Detritus, and Cake Mag.

Publication Credits

April Bayer, Guest Reader
Lorie DeWorken, Ebook Designer
Timothy Torres, Cover Artist
Laura VonKampen, Photographer

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