Ten Short Poems

Poetry by Donald Berger
This Oak Hath Gone to Heaven, by Casey Jex Smith. Copyright the artist. Courtesy MEPAINTSME.

The Car

There you are
in the car.

We Owe You

We owe you like
eleven coffees.

Now I See

Now I see some ocean
through the trees.
I think I hear “Mike Tyson,”
but they’re speaking Chinese.


I was going to put grandma on a card.


Reflected three birds fly across the glass (reflected off the glass).
Please say if there’s a problem with this poem
Report a problem with this poem


Introduced to someone
you won’t see again

And Now

And now the woods are alone with themselves
Receiving sounds that god originally planned for them.




“Gone for the society”
I thought I heard but it was Hindi.


I thought maybe I’d rewrite these prayers, so instead of “Time is precious”
it would be “Time has (is) a problem” and “In the war against time.”
I’d watched him walk across the tracks then up along the cars until he passed
the exit, found him on the left (west) side reading where he could watch the sun.

Donald Berger

Donald Berger is the author of three books of poetry, The Long Time, a bilingual edition in English and German (Wallstein Press, Goettingen, Germany), Quality Hill (Lost Roads Publishers) and The Cream-Filled Muse (Fledermaus Press). His poems and prose have appeared in The New RepublicSlateConjunctions, Fence, The Iowa Review, The New York Times, The Believer, and other publications including some from Berlin, Leipzig, Budapest, Hong Kong, and mainland China. He has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Poetry Prize of the German Academy for Language and Poetry, and the James Tate International Poetry Prize. He currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University.

Casey Jex Smith

Echoing the delicate lines of traditional engraving, Casey Jex Smith's intricate pen and ink drawings unravel into phantasmagorical visions, populated by sprites and anthropomorphic flora. The influence of these psychedelic parables are rooted in the artist's devout Mormon upbringing. "At the centre of Mormon belief is an expanded narrative built around the Garden of Eden" Smith explains, "When you attend temple ceremonies, you watch films that go into this narrative in great detail, and they tend to be made using elaborate Hollywood-type sets of the biblical garden as paradise. It's a place I want to be in. Unintentionally it's also a sexually charged place where you and your perfect mate tromp around in the nude, eat fruit, and pet goats." ¹

His illustrational style can also be traced to the more low-brow influences of his adolescence, like the detailed drawings found in the earliest editions of Dungeons and Dragons. The artworks of in-house illustrators like David A Trampier, David C Sutherland III and Erol Otus were fantastically detailed and often bordered on the naive - they left their mark on the young artist. "The drawings were a little bit better than what the teenagers who were playing the game would have made themselves," ² states Smith. Though the mythical universe created by Smith is one of an accomplished draftsman, its true power resides in its visual density and a seemingly limitless imagination.

Casey Jex Smith received a BFA in Painting from Brigham Young University and an MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. He currently resides in Provo, Utah with his wife and fellow artist Amanda Smith and their two children. His art has been exhibited at The Drawing Center (NYC), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF), Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UT), and Spring Break (LA). His work has been featured in ArtReview Magazine, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, Rhizome.org, Wired.com, ArtMaze Magazine, and New American Paintings.

1, 2. Sharma, Manu. "Casey Jex Smith speaks of his sublime and fluid realms." Stir world, Feb 03, 2021.