Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition

Featuring poetry and prose by established and emerging writers, Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition explores the theme Bare Bones. Read wintry writings that tell of loss and heartbreak in the coldest season of your life. These stories and poems are open and vulnerable as writers lay bare their grief, sadness, and tiredness. Allow yourself to feel those feelings and be vulnerable as you read this 200-page literary magazine. But remember that it gets better, and spring will be here soon.

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Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition: Bare Bones

It begins with the chills in the morning as you pull up the comforter and wish for five more minutes. When you realize that the sky is just a little bit darker, that your windows are fogged up in your car. When you take a walk and look at the massive trees towering over you, branches pointing at the sky, and you wonder, do the trees ever get tired of standing? Perhaps the wind threatens to blow them down, but there they stand, stoic, strong, unmoving. Their colorful leaves have fallen, and their branches are dark, like wooden cracks that have shattered the sky. 

Slowly, day by day, the entire world changes.

Letters from the Editors

It’s winter, and we’ve made it to the end of 2020. Can you even believe it? I don’t think any of us imagined that we would be where we are, doing (or not doing) the things we took for granted, like seeing strangers smile, petting people’s dogs, or trying on clothes at the mall. This year has felt like a stripped-down version of reality. Fewer friends, awkward Zoom calls, and feeling invisible as you walk through the grocery store aisles. Loss of life. An indefatigable feeling of loneliness. I hope that there have been moments of joy, and peace, and love, in this year for you. I hope that even though we might all be going through crises, physical, financial, existential, that we remember that the moments in between the chaos are what the point of it all is. 

—Natasha Lioe, Founder and Publisher

I’ve always loved the way bare tree branches look in the winter. I find myself drawn to them as I go for walks in the park or long drives across the countryside. There is such beauty in the patterns they sketch across the gray sky. The trees have nothing to hide behind in winter, and I am in awe of their vulnerability. Being vulnerable isn’t easy for me. (I rewrote this letter because the first draft sounded like it was from Capsule Stories, not me personally.) I’m in awe when writers are able to be so vulnerable on the page, laying bare their grief, sadness, tiredness. This edition of Capsule Stories gives writers a place to be open and vulnerable, a sentiment that Glennys Egan captures perfectly in her poem “Being Brave in the Cold”:

Perhaps this is the year
I’ll learn to let
the warm sweater of
my grief fall open
without moving to cover
my bare left breast

I don’t apologize
for what you find.

As you read, allow yourself to feel those feelings and be vulnerable. But remember that it gets better, and spring will be here soon.

Carolina VonKampen, Publisher and Editor in Chief

Content warning: Several of these pieces explore themes such as pregnancy and child loss, eating disorders, death, sexual assault, child abuse, and homophobia.

capsule stories winter 2020 edition flat lay

Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition Contents and Contributors

Prose

“Dandelion-Head” by Abigail Swoboda

Abigail Swoboda is a poet and kindergarten teacher who lives in Philadelphia. Visit their website abigailswoboda.com or find them on Twitter at @orbigail.

“The Song in the Well” by Rebecca Harrison

Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and her best friend is a dog who can count.

“Steven without the T” by Lew Furber

Lew Furber is a neurodivergent writer in Cardiff, UK. He is also a guitarist, composer, guitar teacher, and one half of a surrealist musical comedy act, in which he wears a gray old lady wig and white face paint for little discernible reason. He has work forthcoming in a number of magazines, and in 2020 he was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize.

“Mom’s Hot Chocolate” by Alexa Hailey

Alexa Hailey is a freelance and fiction writer from Massachusetts. Her fiction work has been published in Spelk, Flash Fiction Magazine, Vamp Cat Magazine, and others. Follow her on Twitter at @lexabobexa.

Poetry

“Being Brave in the Cold” by Glennys Egan

Glennys Egan was raised in the Canadian prairies and now lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where she works for the government like everyone else. She holds a BA and an MA from Carleton University. Her poetry has been published in Taco Bell Quarterly. You can find her and her dog, Boris, online at @gleegz.

“Going for Coffee on a Winter’s Morning” by John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, The Dalhousie Review, and Connecticut River Review, with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple, and The MacGuffin.

“Winterstorm,” “Snow for Your Birthday,” “December, Outside Exit 110,” and “rivulet” by E. Samples

E. Samples is from Appalachia and lives in Southern Indiana. Her writing has appeared in Lucent Dreaming, Twist in Time, Black Bough Poetry, Abridged, and elsewhere. She is on Twitter at @emilysamples.

“Encounter with Thirty Ravens” 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.

“Ask Me What It Was Like to Be Raised by an Angel and a Devil” and “In Morning” by Eva Lynch-Comer

Eva Lynch-Comer holds a BA in creative writing from Hamilton College, where she received the John V. A. Weaver Prize in Poetry and the Sydna Stern Weiss Essay Prize in Women’s Studies. Her work has appeared in the Hamilton College publications Grasping Roots and The Spectator. She was a poetry editor of the campus literary journal Red Weather. Eva now works in children’s editorial at a publishing company in New York City. Her hobbies include playing with her dog Osito, reading YA fantasy novels, drinking chai tea, and reading outside on her front porch where she can enjoy nature.

“Unkissable,” “Good Night Call,” “We Are a Family of Snow People,” and “A Flower behind My Grandfather’s Ear” by Swastika Jajoo

Swastika Jajoo is a queer poet studying theoretical linguistics in Japan. She won the second prize in the poetry contest organized as part of the international Glass House Poetry Festival. She has been published with Riggwelter, Muse India, and Huffington Post, among others, and her spoken word pieces have been featured on UnErase Poetry, one of India’s leading spoken word content producers. She was also invited to perform with Rolling Stone India for Pride Month 2020.

“It’s Winter and I Fall in Love” by Eddie L House

Eddie House (they/them) is a manic pixie dream-queer who enjoys roller-skating, mainlining caffeine, and smoking out of windows. You can find more of their work in Anatolios, ImageOutWrite, or tucked inside library books around the Stoke-on-Trent area.

“slain spring” 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).

“ebbing” by Shufei Ewe

Shufei Ewe (she/her) is a copywriter, dreamer, cereal hoarder, and serial overthinker. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Versification, The Adriatic Magazine, Yes Poetry, and HAD.

“Haikus for My Daughter,” “Monsoon of Mediocrity,” and “Orange Ribbon for Multiple Sclerosis” by Morgan Russell

Morgan Russell (she/they) is a rhetorician and poet from Atlanta. She believes in vulnerability first and foremost. She is the creative writing editor of Marías at Sampaguitas, and most of her pieces can be found at linktr.ee/morgankrussell.

“I Guess This Is Goodbye,” “Elegy,” “Loose Strings,” and “One Day” by Savannah Cooper

Savannah Cooper is a Missouri native who now lives in Maryland with her partner and dogs. Her work has previously appeared in Mud Season Review, Steam Ticket, Gone Lawn, Midwestern Gothic, and Rust + Moth, among other publications.

“Fantoccini” by Kirsten Luckins

Kirsten Luckins is a poet, performer, and creative producer living on the northeast coast of England. Her previous two collections have been published by Burning Eye Books, and her third collection (from which this poem is taken) will be released by Bad Betty Press in February 2021. She is the artistic director of the Tees Women Poets women’s performance poetry collective. She blogs at kirstenluckins.com.

“One Way” and “Last Photograph” by Natalie Marino

Natalie Marino is a writer, mother, and physician. She graduated with her BA in American literature from UCLA and her MD from the University of Pittsburgh. She has work in or will soon be published by Barren Magazine, LEON Literary Review, Literary Mama, Louisiana Literature, Mineral Lit Mag, among others. She lives in Thousand Oaks with her husband and two daughters.

“Backbone in Minnesota, Winter,” “No Socks for a Martyr,” and “Thrill Seeker” by Nancy K. Dobson

Nancy K. Dobson’s writing, both fiction and poetry, has been published in a variety of journals including The Sun, Noyo River Review, Five on the Fifth, and ARDOR. Her poetry has won a few prizes. When not writing, she enjoys hiking beautiful trails or upcycling fashion.

“black ice/haiku,” “Some Years Are Like That,” and “Body of Water” by Isabella J Mansfield

Isabella J Mansfield writes about the many faces of anxiety, body image, intimacy, and the human condition. Most notably, Mansfield has performed at The Oberon Theatre (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Nambucca (London, U.K.), and at various readings and open mics across the U.S. Her poems have been featured by The Wild Word, Sad Girl Review, Liminality, and Capsule Stories, as well as in publications by East Jasmine Review, Augie’s Bookshelf, and Rebel Mountain Press. In 2017, she was a Brittany Noakes 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.

“somewhere / places” by Noah Letscher

Noah Letscher is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College with a BA in English and theater. They spend most of their time that they’re not working at their remote job engaged in some form of creation for Dungeons & Dragons. They are in three and a half ongoing campaigns, which leaves them little time to write, but like any writer, they manage. Their favorite place to be is wherever they can light a nice-smelling candle. Noah is notoriously bad at titling anything.

“Stranger” by Nick Newman

Nick Newman studies English literature at the University of Leeds. He grew up in China and Scotland. His work has appeared in Mineral Lit Mag, and you can find him on Twitter at @_NickNewman.

“the season that preys” and “i wear you” by john compton

john compton is a thirty-three-year-old gay poet who lives in Kentucky. His poetry resides in his chest like many hearts, and they bloom like vigorously infectious wild flowers. He lives in a tiny town with his husband josh and their eight dogs and two cats. He feels his head is an auditorium filled with the dead poets from the past. He has published one book, which is being rereleased, and has six chapbooks published and forthcoming: trainride elsewhere (Pressed Wafer, 2016; Rogue Wolf Press, TBA), that moan like a saxophone (Kindle, 2016), ampersand (Plan B Press, 2019), a child growing wild inside the mothering womb (Ghost City Press, June 2020), i saw god cooking children / paint their bones (Blood Pudding Press, October 2020), burning his matchstick fingers his hair went up like a wick (Black Heart Press, March 2021), and to wash all the pretty things off my skin (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2021). He has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

“Asking the Proper Questions” by Mallory Pearson

Mallory Pearson is a writer and artist based in New York City. The twenty-three-year-old from Manassas, Virginia, focuses on creating work in the realm of painting, book arts, jewelry, and poetry. She received a BFA with a major in painting and a minor in book arts from Pratt Institute. She portrays themes of folklore, femininity, and loss and how these elements interact with the southern United States.

“Early Onset Freeze” by Mary Alice Dixon

Mary Alice Dixon lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is a long-time hospice volunteer. She is working on a collection of poems and short fiction exploring illness, loss, and end-of-life issues. She is also a former attorney who often served as a Guardian ad Litem in adult incompetency cases. In addition, she has been an unsuccessful door-to-door encyclopedia seller, a successful backyard gardener, and a professor. Her recent work is in or forthcoming from Kakalak, Main Street Rag, Stonecoast Review, The Mythic Circle, County Lines, That Southern Thing, Living Springs Publishers, and elsewhere.

“There Will Be Too Much to Restore,” “Bone Memory,” and “Farewell Is a Thing without Feathers” by Kayla King

Kayla King is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. She is the founding editor and contributing writer for Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective, forthcoming publication January 2021. Kayla’s fiction and poetry have been published by or are forthcoming from Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, and Honey & Lime, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website, kaylakingbooks.com, or her twitterings at @KaylaMKing.

“Like Water in the Palm of My Hand,” “The Cell Phone Rings inside My Pocket,” and “Midnight Attempts to Keep Me Calm” by Lois Roma-Deeley

Lois Roma-Deeley’s fourth poetry collection The Short List of Certainties (2017) won the Jacopone da Todi Poetry Book Prize. Her previous collections are Rules of Hunger (2004), northSight (2006), and High Notes (2010), which was a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her work is featured in or forthcoming from numerous anthologies and journals, nationally and internationally, including Odes and Elegies, Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, Slipstream, Post Road, Bosque, Zone 3, Spillway, Artemis, Glass Poetry Press’s Poets Resist series, and many more. Roma-Deeley is the associate editor of the poetry journal Presence. You can find her online at loisroma-deeley.com.

“A Memory of Winter, Denver” 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 humanity. 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.

“Solstice” 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 collection, My Life in Cars, published. Ed’s poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Rattle, and New Millennium Writings, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. More at edrpoet.com.

“To the Man Who Can’t Tell Me He Loves Me,” “Winter,” and “Songlines” by Claire Marsden

Claire Marsden enjoys writing poetry, CNF, and fiction and is thrilled many of her pieces have found wonderful homes. Although she has chronic pain she has learned to dance with the dark, and when she isn’t wild swimming or tramping through the woods she can usually be found squirreled away writing.

“Breaking Point” by Jessica Kim

Jessica Kim is a writer based in California with works appearing or forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Yes Poetry, and more. Her poems have recently been recognized by the National Poetry Quarterly and Pulitzer Center. She loves all things historical and sour.

“Persolus, Patron Saint of Isolation” and “Medius, Patron Saint of Uncertainty” by Paulie Lipman

Paulie Lipman is a former bartender/bouncer/record store employee/Renaissance Fair worker/two-time National Poetry Slam finalist and a current loud Jewish/queer/poet/writer/performer. His work has appeared in Button Poetry, Write About Now, The Emerson Review, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Voicemail Poems, pressure gauge, Protimluv (Czech Republic), and Prisma: Zeitblatt für Text & Sprache (Germany). Their poetry collections from below/denied the light (2018) and sad bastard soundtrack (2019) are available from Swimming with Elephants Publications.

“Burnout” and “Christmas Eve” by Kendra Nuttall

Kendra Nuttall is a copywriter by day and poet by night. Her work has previously appeared in Spectrum, Capsule Stories, and Chiron Review, among others. Her debut poetry collection, A Statistical Study of Randomness, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Kendra lives and works in Utah with her husband and poodle. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking around Utah or watching reality TV. Find her online at kendranuttall.com.

“Good and Valuable Consideration” by Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books, 2019) and Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020), as well as Tower, a Rapunzel-inspired novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). She is a Canadian author living in Ottawa whose writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Feral, Dreich, Event, Prairie Fire, and Parentheses Journal. Visit francesboyle.com for more.

“Dear Winter” by Kaci Skiles Laws

Kaci Skiles Laws is a closet cat lady and creative writer living in Dallas–Fort Worth. Her work has been featured in The Letters Page, Bewildering Stories, The American Journal of Poetry, Pif Magazine, and The Blue Nib, among others. Her published work and blog can be viewed at kaciskileslawswriter.wordpress.com.

“Alpha and Omega” and “Waning Refrain” by Kathryn Sadakierski

Kathryn Sadakierski is a twenty-one-year-old graduate student whose writing has appeared in Critical Read, Halfway Down the Stairs, NewPages Blog, Teachers of Vision, The Ekphrastic Review, The Voices Project, Visual Verse, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Bay Path University and is pursuing her master’s degree.

Publication Credits

Lorie DeWorken, Ebook Designer
Matthew Torres, Cover Artist
Laura VonKampen, Photographer

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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.