Notes on the Micros

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September 23, 2020 by The Citron Review

Sometimes we blow the bubble. It has to be big enough to hold us in. To keep the unwanted realities out. So we sing karaoke at home. Clean the crumbs and grease from the keyboard. Read two-sevenths of Proust. Turn off the news for a day. Watch Andy Samberg fall in love, time loop be damned. And like his character in Palm Springs, we try to pretend everything’s fine.

Of course, then bubble blows up. We fall asleep and wake up to find that Ruth Bader Ginsberg is dead. That the President is still the President. People continue to suffer in systems that discriminate, harm, and oppress. Maybe we realize that we’re older, but less wise. We’re punch drunk and on fire. Can we marvel at our threshold for disappointment or loss? Is the bubble a luxury we can afford? Is Hulu worth $5.99 a month? They do have that RBG documentary I’m too sad to watch.

When I was reading through our Micros selections for Fall 2020, I felt the push and pull of reality and escape. Every piece reveals sinister or troubling undercurrents in human attempts to find knowledge, excitement, prosperity, or love. Whether from experience or imagination, each micro is grounded in the writer’s own voice. The first line of Peter Krumbach’s prose micropoem, “If I Had a Magic Carpet” is “I’d inspect it for mites.” Lina Lau’s very physical creative nonfiction “The Bell Dings” embodies leaving “a part of me behind.” Nikki Williams flies us to Jamaica to experience the “criminally charming” draw of tourmaline, amethyst, and citrine in “Token.” In Linnea Cooley’s “Things that Don’t Belong in the Microwave” we are freed from the common sense of maturity. Two hint fictions from Tara Lynn Masih reveal characters seeking entertainment amidst cloudy circumstances at best. The author of an excellent new collection, Little Feasts (Thirty West Publishing), Jules Archer drives us into the headspace where holding scary knowledge influences our own actions in “Not a Formal Diagnosis.”

Even at their most humorous, none of these pieces are shy about our dark reality. Disaster or failure is always around the corner. During this pandemic, we can’t afford to be lied to – not by governments nor establishments putting money before safety. Even our escapism must be held accountable. We’ve seen through enough lies. A cloudy, sturdy bubble is a convenience we cannot afford. I’m the type of person that sees connections between the art that finds us and the lives that we are living. I believe that reading these delicate but tough little stories can give us strength to pop our bubbles and do something. For example, here in the United States, election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Maybe I can’t stop a forest fire or a virus, but I can put my mask on and vote. When I come home, maybe I’ll be ready for that RBG documentary and a karaoke jam.

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Hug, Jill Katherine Chmelko, 2019

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