Oregon Book Awards finalist

The poems in something has to happen next, if given the chance, might peer down inquisitively from a great height; they speak of quietness, namelessness, the reachlessness of love, the fortune of animals and their silence, apocalypse, abandonment, beginnings, and endings.

Working with brevity and compression, Andrew Michael Roberts first imagines how small he can go with a poem and still maintain some sort of emotional or imagistic center. Then, released from this limitation, the rest of his playful, unexpected poems expand to fill a world with imagery, emotion, and sound.

What Roberts calls “simply a book of small poems” grew out of his obsessions with time and catastrophe and love and abandonment—what is always possible, almost attained, but lost at the last minute. When something ends or when everything ends, something else must always happen next—what will it be, and who will be there to name and love and destroy it?

“Concise, always surprising, these poems take you on journeys into other worlds. They break icicles from your eyes, and say, ‘look at me, you’ve never seen me before.’”—James Tate, author, The Ghost Soldiers
“Unafraid to be quick, playful, and wise, something has to happen next is a frankly pleasurable collection. It dares us all to try its succinct propositions, to exercise imagination’s right to speculate, to think and feel in poetry’s precincts. It is a beautiful, generously realized book.”—Dara Wier, author, Reverse Rapture and Remnants of Hannah

1. dear wild abandon,
dear wild abandon, 3
we are not birds 4
explain yourself 5
among the beautiful illusions 6
poem written on the mirror of her skin 7
dear man on fire, 8
tragic figure in a rearview 9
the moon 10
what i know of the moon 11
strip mall 12
birds of paradise 13
before sleep takes us 14
swallows built their nest around it 15
when we were giant 16
again i strike your window in full flight 17
dear artificial heart, 18
pledge of allegiance 19
the face of jesus in my bite bruise 20
laundromat at the end of the world 21
dear special theory of relativity, 22
you can hear it through the cumulative heartbeats 23
you never touched me 24
they molt in hopes of airier plumage 25
dear quark, 26
prove you wrong 27
the end 28
dear catastrophe, 29

2. something has to happen next
rehearsal 33
this or something like it 34
a cyclist passes with a cello on his back 35
lamb 36
the story of my beard 37
other people’s machines 38
winter museum 39
what we know 40
the moments before the crash landing are clearest 41
serendipity 42
safe shower 43
stalactite 44
somewhere a buried bone awaits 45
for the dispossessed 46
in the night of the womb the spirit quickens into flesh 47
coyotes 48
chosen 49
world, 50
levitator’s apprentice 51
man of the year 52
california 53
if nothing else 54
listen 55
i’ll pack a pretty shirt 56

dear special theory of relativity

please accept our sincere apologies.
nothing's relative since you've been gone,

the sunbeams halted
halfway down the sky,

the long train of cars dead
in the street, blurry from the rush

of trees racing past
on their way to work.

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Publication Details

Publication Date
Pages, art, trim size
68 pages, 6 x 9 inches