Anything That Happens is my debut poetry collection published by Press 53.
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
Publication date March 25, 2021.
Pre-orders ship early March.
Virtual book launch March 23, 2021. Register here.
Praise for Anything That Happens
The difficult story of what follows a terrible accident in Anything That Happens has me thinking about the word aftermath, how it means not only dire consequences but second-growth, as new grass after a harvest. Cheryl Wilder’s poems are almost shatteringly direct: they explore guilt and suffering so cleanly and so precisely that every detail testifies, and mercy is ever possible. This is a brave and honorable book.
—Nancy Eimers, author of Oz
Anything That Happens is a mature poetic inquiry into the ways early trauma can reverberate through the whole of a life—relationships, family, one’s sense of self. The poems are candid, sharp-edged and very well rendered. You can taste “the bone in the broth” here as Wilder works through the maze of emotion. In the end, we witness change and redemption, but the psychic weight remains. As she aptly describes it: “I am two people now— // the before and the after; one I’ve already forgotten, // the other I have not met.”
—Mark Cox, author of Readiness: Prose Poems
At the age of twenty, Cheryl Wilder got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive. She emerged from the car physically whole. Her passenger, a close friend, woke up from a coma four months later with a life-changing brain injury. Anything That Happens follows her journey from a young adult consumed by shame and self-hatred to a woman she can live with… and even respect. Along the way, Wilder marries, has a son, divorces, and cares for her dying mother. Anything That Happens examines what it takes to reconcile a past marked by a grave mistake, a present as caregiver to many, and a future that stretches into one long second chance.
About the title
When someone is looking to heal, they are looking for answers. Answers are not always easy, if there are answers at all. People told me the car crash wasn’t my fault, because it was an accident. The word “accident” was their answer. It didn’t make me feel better, though it seemed to help them move on from the tragedy.
Not until I looked up the definition of “accident” did I realize why the word made me feel lonelier, and even more helpless, than I already did:
accident (‘ӕksidәnt), sb. [a. Fr. accident: —L. accidens. –ent, sb. properly pr. pple. of accid-ӗre to fall, to happen.]
- Anything that happens.
- † a. An occurrence, incident, event. Obs. b. Anything that happens without foresight or expectation; an unusual event, which proceeds from some unknown cause, or is an unusual effect of a known cause; a casualty, a contingency. the chapter of accidents: the unforeseen course of events. c. esp. An unfortunate event, a disaster, a mishap.
[The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “accident.”]