Nicole Crucial




Nikki Kroushl (sometimes writing as Nicole Crucial) is a graduate of UNC Wilmington's BFA program in creative writing. Much like a houseplant, she loves sunlight, the indoors, astrology poems, and when the cat sits next to her on the window sill.

Her fabulist fiction, self-indulgent essays, and occasional rogue poem appear in Diabolical PlotsZizzle Literary, mutiny!Runestone Literary Journaland other places. 


The Anatomy of Spines

Luna Station Quarterly, Issue 41. Fiction.

Lorelei was so close I could barely breathe: a leftover habit from days when we shared one sleeping bag. She had her sharp nose buried in my neck. Her fingernails pressed a thin staircase of white lines into my hip, clutching at me as if she would like to climb inside me. She’d have made quite the little home in the zipper of my spine; she would have been comfortable among the teeth.

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House of Poets

mutiny! issue 2, page 50. Fiction.

In the house of poets, we buy the wasp-killer meant for nests. I took aim with the flared horn, pulled the trigger as if the chemicals were a bullet.


The Ceiling of the World

Diabolical Plots Year Five. Fiction.

This is important. When Margaret moved to the city, you see, the office she worked in was on the top floor, five stories up. 

(Purchase the Year 5 anthology here.)



Zizzle, Issue 2. Fiction.

The other children were convinced that Ms. Ravencroft was a witch.

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Portrait of a Young Prostitute

Atlantis magazine, Issue 78. Nonfiction.

Our tour of the Red Light District started at seven. It was still light out when we walked away from the tulip-lined canals bordered by colorful, tall, narrow Dutch Renaissance townhouses.

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august and september

Atlantis magazine, Issue 78. Poetry.

apologize / Instead, elegy on the back of a / hand as I pass / u / will die after stinging me

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Rinse Cycle

Atlantis magazine, Issue 78. Poetry.

When you cry, it's like our house shrinks to the size of a broom closet. A belief in the power of comfort leaves us powerless, imagining a brush of fingertip to shoulder, lips to back of head—imagining, not performing.

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mercy doesn't pay

Second Story Journal, volume x. Poetry.

i read a poem once about / a cricket a cockroach—some / thing about it being a good samaritan, / theres beauty in all things, et cetera.

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Second Story Journal, volume x. Fiction.

"I used to like feeling déjà vu," my mother says in the kitchen one day while I am home for winter break. "It made me feel like I was doing what I was supposed to do."

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Second Story Journal, volume x. Fiction.

My apartment is covered with my mother's art: crochet bath mats, crochet coasters, crochet afghans, crochet potholders. In twenty years, I have accumulated sweaters, ponchos, scarves, beanies. Rucksacks.


My Brother the Sun

Atlantis magazine, Issue 76.

At 7:51 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in early October, shortly after I've woken up to some confusing texts in our family group chat, my brother responds: 
I've had a hell of a night

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Second Story Journal, volume ix

She says, “I want to make you unhappy,” like it tastes fresh, the first sour strawberry on the tongue after a winter of swallowing nuts and bolts.

Winner: 1st Prize, Fiction, North Carolina College Media Association 

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In the Beginning: Dark YA Retellings of Biblical Stories

Ten authors come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books.


The Soul Repairman

Runestone Journal, volume 2. Fiction.

“A town like this always needs a soul repairman,” he says, rising to his feet, wrench in hand.




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