Denis Johnson

Looking Out the Window Poem

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

 Denis  Johnson

Denis Johnson is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New, published in 1995. Johnson is also an award winning novelist and short story writer.  Most notable of his many novels is Tree of Smoke, winner of the 2007 National Book Award.  However,  his breakthrough short story collection, Jesus' Son, published in 1992, remains his most recognizable work.

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