Looking Out the Window Poem

By Denis Johnson b. 1949 Denis Johnson
The sounds of traffic   
die over the back lawn   
to occur again in the low   

The voices, risen, of
the neighborhood cannot   
maintain that pitch   
and fail briefly, start   
up again.

Similarly my breathing rises   
and falls while I look out   
the window of apartment   
number three in this slum,   
hoping for rage, or sorrow.

They don’t come to me   
anymore. How can I lament   
anything? It is all
so proper, so much
as it should be, now

the nearing cumulus   
clouds, ominous,   
shift, they are like the
curtains, billowy,   
veering at the apex
of their intrusion on the room.
If I am alive now,   
it is only

to be in all this
making all possible.   
I am glad to be
finally a part
of such machinery. I was   
after all not so fond
of living, and there comes
into me, when I see   
how little I liked
being a man, a great joy.

Look out our astounding
clear windows before evening.   
It is almost as if
the world were blue
with some lubricant,
it shines so.

Denis Johnson, “Looking Out the Window Poem” from The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New. Copyright © 1995 by Denis Johnson. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1995)

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Poet Denis Johnson b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Nature, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Denis  Johnson


Denis Johnson was born in Munich, Germany where his father worked for the State Department. Johnson grew up in the Philippines, Japan, and Washington D.C. and earned an MFA from the University of Iowa. An award-winning novelist, short story writer, and playwright, Johnson published his first collection of poems, The Man Among the Seals (1969), at the age of twenty. Subsequent collections include Inner Weather (1976), The . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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