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Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition

Featuring summery poems and prose by emerging and established writers, Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition explores the theme Going Forward, from speeding along the highway to moving on from heartbreak and loss. In this 200-page literary magazine, you’ll find the words you need to keep going forward, one day at a time.

We want to support Black writers, specifically, with this edition and work to make publishing more accessible. If you are a Black writer and would like to read Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition, please email us at and we will send you a free PDF or EPUB copy (tell us which you prefer).

We’ll mail a free print copy of Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition to the first five people who donate $25 or more to one of these funds to support Black trans people. As of 3 p.m. on June 30, one print copies is left. Email your screenshot (dated June 14 or later) to And after we’ve reached five people for the print copies, we’ll send out free ebook/PDF copies of the edition to anyone else who donates $25 or more to one of the funds.

Going Forward

The sun beats down, the light reflecting off the cars around you. The breeze whips through the car windows as you drive through the windy path around the coast, the ocean’s waves licking the shore a few hundred feet below you. You have decided that you can no longer stay where you are. It’s time to go. Anywhere but here. You’re escaping from the people who have held you back for too long. You’ve been cut down and broken down, and you won’t let anyone stop you this time. You travel, through dusty highways and past sandy coasts, through forest paths and thick downtown traffic. It all passes by in a blur, and before you know it, the sun turns the sky a deep purple, and the green trees you’ve learned to look up to start to look burnt as the leaves turn orange and dry.

You keep going forward. There isn’t any other choice.

Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition Letters from the Editors

Ironically enough, I write this letter from the gate at an airport that feels deserted and eerie, wearing a face mask and obsessively washing my already cracked and dry hands. I am about to embark on a cross-country drive from Florida to California, my first time driving across the country, for a reason that would take too long to explain, a problem that I must solve myself. My life has taken turns that have been unexpected, disappointing, never meeting up to my dreams or expectations. But I will move forward. I must. It is the only thing to do. 

—Natasha Lioe, Founder and Publisher

The best summer job I had was working at a law firm. Every afternoon, I got to run errands. Some days I’d take a stack of envelopes and make deliveries on foot in Cedar Rapids’ small downtown area, but most days, I got to drive around in my car, dropping off packages and letters at offices. It was a blast. I’d ride around town, listening to new music, letting my mind wander, thinking about moving to college in the fall. Figuring out how to keep going forward even though everything was changing. Moving forward one day at a time, one errand at a time.

Today, time doesn’t seem so straightforward, even though it’s summer and the days are getting longer. Time has slowed and sped up erratically in the pandemic; the weekdays and weekends blur together; weeks go by in a flash. It’s hard to know how to move forward when we’re stuck inside, unsure what the future brings, unable to plan much further ahead than a week or two.

The poems and prose in Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition explore the ways in which we go forward, from walking around your neighborhood and speeding along the highway to reflecting on the past in order to move on, moving forward from heartbreak or loss, getting up off the ground when we fall down. We hope you enjoy this edition of Capsule Stories and find in it the words you need to keep going forward, one day at a time.

—Carolina VonKampen, Publisher and Editor in Chief

Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition Contents and Contributors


“An Overheated Submarine Takes Us from Press Club to South Delhi” and “Overfamiliar” by Uttaran Das Gupta

Uttaran Das Gupta is a New Delhi-based writer and journalist. He teaches at O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana, and frequently writes on cinema, poetry, and politics. He recently published a novel, Ritual.

“Rowboat: Christmas Cove, Maine 1962” by Lucy Tyrrell

Lucy Tyrrell’s poems 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.

“Easing Out the Clutch” by Larry Pike

Larry Pike’s poetry and fiction has appeared in The Louisville Review, Seminary Ridge Review, Caesura, Exposition Review, and Vitamin ZZZ, among other publications. He has work forthcoming in Jelly Bucket. He lives in Glasgow, Kentucky.

“Gravel Road” by Arianna Sebo

Arianna Sebo (she/her) is a queer poet and writer living in Southern Alberta with her husband, pug, and five cats. Their home is brimming with cat posts, pet beds, fur, and love. She received her BA in philosophy from the University of Calgary, working in the field of law to feed her family and writing poetry to feed her philosophical soul. Her poetry can be found in Kissing Dynamite, The Coachella Review, Front Porch Review, and 45 Poems of Protest: The Pandemic. Follow her at and @AriannaSebo on Twitter and Instagram.

“Go, Just Go,” “Bad Work,” and “I Hitchhiked All Over” by Ed Ruzicka

Ed Ruzicka was raised beside creeks and cornfields not far from Chicago and now lives with his wife, Renee, and their doddering bulldog, Tucker, in Baton Rouge. Ed has published one full-length volume and recently had his second, My Life in Cars, accepted for release. Ed’s poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Rattle, and New Millennium Writings, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. More at

“Fort Knox, Labor Day 1985” by Bruce Pemberton

Bruce Pemberton is a retired high school teacher, coach, and Gulf War veteran. His most recent work has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Third Wednesday, Sky Island Journal, Ocotillo Review, Streetlight Magazine, and iTeach Literary Magazine and the anthologies In Tahoma’s Shadow and Spokane Writes. He lives on the Palouse in rural eastern Washington.

“Fort Bragg, California 2018” 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.

“Outer Banks” and “Outer Banks II” Stacy Alderman

Stacy Alderman has writing featured in Potato Soup Journal, Heart and Humanity, HerStry, The Mighty, and Hometown Odyssey. She blogs about mental health at Quirky, Confused, & Curvy and lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and fur kid. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s probably watching hockey or (thinking about) traveling.

“U-Turn” and “The Grass Was Long and Soft” 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.

“Burn Out” by Sarra Culleno

Sarra Culleno is a London born, Manchester-based UK poet, a mother of two, and an English teacher. She performs at open mic poetry events and slams across the United Kingdom. She writes about children’s rights, motherhood, identity, technology, the environment, politics, modern monogamy, and the education system. Sarra has work published by Les Femmes Folles, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Hidden Voice Publishing Anthology: Volume 1, Bonnie’s Crew Press, and in Bollocks to Brexit anthology. She was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Prize and appears as featured poet at Herstories Festival, The Festival of Manchester, Write Out Loud Sale, WatchWord at Chorlton Book Festival, Newham Poetry Group, The Others, Celebrate Festival Whalley Range, and That’s What She Said (For Books’ Sake). Sarra appeared as special guest poet in the Manchester Fringe Festival show STREETLIGHTS + fairylights at the Hope Aria Academy. You can find readings on her YouTube channel, accessible through her Instagram and Twitter profiles. Sarra has a podcast interview by Spoken Label available on their website, and she appeared as a guest poet on the North Manchester FM radio show Hannah’s Bookshelf. You can find her on Instagram at @sarracullenopoetry, on Twitter at @sarra1978, and on Facebook at

“Waiting for the Light to Change” and “This Morning” by John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, The Dalhousie Review, and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple, and Connecticut River Review.

“self-care” by Kali Richmond

Kali Richmond is a native Londoner and lapsed video artist currently attempting a closer to nature existence in the north of England. When not cultivating an unruly patch of land and unrulier children, she writes about vulnerability and isolation. Her work will soon be featured in Kanstellation and Idle Ink.

“Somewhere” and “A Note for R.” by Mark Martyre

Mark Martyre is a Canadian writer and musician. He has written and produced six full-length studio albums since 2012, as well as music written and performed for theater. His music has garnered critical acclaim and attention nationally and internationally, and he has toured across Canada and Europe. In 2019, Mark also published a collection of his poems, Notes on Torn Sheets, and has also had several poems published in online journals and literary magazines.

“Platonic Beach,” “An Old Photo,” and “Summers on Repeat” by Maina Chen

Maina Chen is a nerd masquerading as an editor and writer in some cavernous corner of Brooklyn. A half-nocturnal night dweller, she writes short stories and poems. When she’s not creating monsters, she’s battling them in video games. Her work has appeared in The Well, Ape-X, Catan Stories: Legend of the Sea Robbers, Youth-for-Youth: Mental Health Guidebook, NextShark, and more.

“Flying Away” by Michelle M. Mead

Michelle M. Mead is a writer from Upstate New York. She has edited, written (stories, poetry, reviews), illustrated, and interviewed for two print zines, Artless & Naked and Whimsy. She has been published in various print magazines, including Polluto, The Thirty First Bird Review, Trespass, Blinking Cursor, Cross Stitch Crazy, Words@Deakin Press, and Chronogram, and ezines, including Gutter Eloquence, EMG Zine, Apparatus, and Under the Juniper Tree. She has also published two poetry books, Moongirls and Nightdreams and Divided Together ( She is working on multiple novels and a poetry collection.

“Final Curtain” Sarah Marquez

Sarah Marquez is an MA candidate at Southern New Hampshire University. She has work published and forthcoming in various magazines and journals, including Amethyst Review, Crêpe & Penn, Ink&Nebula, peculiars magazine, and Royal Rose. When not writing, she can be found reading, sipping coffee, or tweeting at @Sarahmarissa338.

“Salem, Massachusetts 2019” and “The End” by Lynne Schmidt

Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award-winning poet and memoir author who also writes young adult fiction. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press, 2019) and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West, 2020). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award and Frost Meadow Review’s Editor’s Choice Award, and she was a 2018 and 2019 Pacific Northwest Writers Association finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne is a five-time 2019 Best of the Net nominee and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Prize for Poetry. In 2012 she started the project AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. She is an avid snowboarder. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

“End of July” and “The Tender Slice of Horizon” by Alexandre Ferrere

Alexandre Ferrere is twenty-nine and lives in France. After a master’s degree in library sciences and a master’s degree in English literature, he is now working on a PhD on American poetry. His essays and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Beatdom, Empty Mirror, Rust + Moth, Lumin Journal, Riggwelter Press, Barren Magazine, Isacoustic, armarolla, Lucent Dreaming, Kissing Dynamite, Porridge Magazine, and elsewhere.

“The Hanged Man” and “Endure” 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. (Visit 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).

“Before I Go” by Akhim Alexis

Akhim Alexis is a writer born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. He is currently pursuing an MA in literatures in English at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine. His most recent work has appeared in Moko, In Parentheses, and KAIROS Literary Magazine and is forthcoming in The Caribbean Writer.

“Cracks in Our Shadows” by Sarah Jane Justice

Sarah Jane Justice is a creative whose work has been commended in a variety of fields. She performed at the Sydney Opera House as a national finalist in the 2018 Australian Poetry Slam, counts four professional releases of original music to her name, wrote and performed a one-woman cabaret show for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe, and makes regular appearances around South Australia as a storyteller and spoken word artist. Her poetry and prose have been featured in publications around the world, including releases from The Blue Nib, Black Hare Press, and South Broadway Ghost Society.

“salted wounds” and “stagnant waters” by Linda M. Crate

Linda M. Crate has work published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, 2019). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, 2018). Recently she has published two full-length poetry collections, Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020) and The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020).

“Undercloud” by A. Martine

A. Martine is a trilingual writer, musician, and artist of color who goes where the waves take her. She might have been a kraken in a past life. She’s an assistant editor at Reckoning Press and co-editor-in-chief/producer/creative director of The Nasiona. Her collection At Sea, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize, is forthcoming with CLASH BOOKS. Some words are found or forthcoming in: Déraciné, The Rumpus, Moonchild Magazine, Marías at Sampaguitas, Luna Luna Magazine, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Pussy Magic, South Broadway Ghost Society, Gone Lawn, Boston Accent, Anti-Heroin Chic, Cosmonauts Avenue, and tenderness lit. Follow her on Twitter at @Maelllstrom, and you can find her online at and

“I Promise This Year I’ll Disappear” by Kayla King

Kayla King is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a microcollection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. Kayla’s fiction and poetry has been published by or is forthcoming from Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, Fearsome Critters, Barren Magazine, and Honey & Lime, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over on her website at or her twitterings at @KaylaMKing.

“Cadenza” by James Penha

James Penha, a native New Yorker, has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, and his verse appeared in 2019 in Headcase: LGBTQ Writers & Artists on Mental Health and Wellness (Oxford University Press), Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares and Rebels), and What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye (Gelles-Cole). His essays have appeared in the New York Daily News and the New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current events poetry. You can find him on Twitter at @JamesPenha.

“The Widow” by Kendra Nuttall

Kendra Nuttall is a copywriter by day and poet by night. Her work has previously appeared in Spectrum Literary Journal, Capsule Stories, and Chiron Review, among others. She lives in Utah with her husband and dog. Find more of her work on

“Sailing” and “Shifts” 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. Emma is interested in the shapes and sounds of poetry, how thoughts can drift silently staining the page.

Read our interview with Emma Keanie about her poems here.


“Honeymoon” by Elizabeth Jaeger

Elizabeth Jaeger has had essays, short stories, book reviews, and poetry published in various print and online journals, including Watchung Review, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Ovunque Siamo, Peacock Journal, Boston Accent, and Italian Americana. An excerpt from her novel in progress is forthcoming in Newtown Literary. Jaeger recently founded Maple Tiger Review, an online journal dedicated to publishing work written by teens and tweens. She is the book reviews editor at Ovunque Siamo. When Jaeger isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys going hiking and taking road trips with her son. Her website is

Read our interview with Elizabeth Jaeger about her essay here.

“Walking Tour,” “City Seasons,” and “September Sadness” by Dani Castonzo

Dani Castonzo is a fundraiser and creative writer from Chicago. She is an avid reader, traveler, and walker. She frequently performs in Chicago’s live storytelling and improv scene.

“Timing” by Gillian Webster

Gillian Webster lives in the beautiful Georgian New Town of Edinburgh. She fell in love with the United States when she first began traveling there as a teenager. America has inspired her writing ever since. She has a BA (Hons) in marketing, French, and Italian from the University of Strathclyde and has taken classes in creative writing at The University of Edinburgh. Her first novel, Donor #149, was a finalist in the Penguin Random House Daily Mail First Crime Novel Award. She is working on her second novel, a domestic thriller set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to writing, Gillian is an avid photographer. You can find her images on Instagram at @small_acts_of_sabotage_.

“Yesterwhatever” by Marlin Bressi

Marlin Bressi is the author of four nonfiction books, including Hairy Men in Caves: True Stories of America’s Most Colorful Hermits (Sunbury Press, 2015) and Pennsylvania Oddities (Sunbury Press, 2018).

“Elsie” by Denny Jace

Denny Jace has been writing since June 2019. She writes flash fiction and short stories and is building up to her first novel. She lives in Shropshire with her husband and two (grownup) children. Most of her days are spent reading her stories to Maude and Stanley, her two faithful dogs. She has been published in Ellipsis Zine, and her flash fiction “When the Last Flame Is Blown” won Retreat West’s Micro Fiction Competition in January 2020.

Read our interview with Denny Jace about her flash fiction here.

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