Pastoral Suitepoems by John Muro

picture of John Muro

The new poems in John Muro’s Pastoral Suite are wide-ranging and dynamic in their vivid portrayals of the natural world from ocean to garden and in their focus on many of life’s joys and sorrows. His poems are now recognized for their eloquence, lush imagery and craftmanship, often in pursuit of the elusive beauty and mystery of the natural world. His work has been widely praised. Kelli Russell Agodon writes, “The poems in John Muro’s second volume of poetry, Pastoral Suite, are rich in time and landscape. In a news cycle of too much, Muro’s poems ground us in the moment. These are poems that welcome those in-between hours when we turn off the voices of radios and reconnect with a few solitary clouds. A master of suspended time, Muro removes us from a busy world and leads us into an abundant life thick with details of wind-shorn nests of lichen and leaves that hung like paper/lanterns or flecks of gold disgorged downstream over moss-softened stone. Pastoral Suite is a beautiful meditation that locates the sacred in the natural world and in the present, creating a splendor that reminds us how nature heals and how poetry can take us from a place of chaos into words of calm. This is wonderful work."

Since the publication of the author’s first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, in the fall of 2020, Muro has received tthree nominations for the Pushcart Prize. Also, since that time, his poetry has appeared in dozens of literary journals and anthologies, including such highly selective journals as Barnstorm, the Delmarva Review, Grey Sparrow, MORIA, pacificReview, River Heron, Sheepshead, Sky Island, and the Valparaiso Review. In 2021, John was also profiled and selected as a 2021 “featured writer” in the Freshwater Literary Journal, and as a 2022 “featured author” in OpenDoor Magazine. He has also participated in readings for various literary journals, including Agapanthus, Barnstorm, Blue Muse, Freshwater, MockingOwl Roost, Sheepshead and Writer Shed Stories.
  pastoral suite cover image
  Painting by Babette Barton.

John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to conservation and environmental stewardship, and he has held several volunteer and executive positions in those areas. A lover of art, music, literature, and all things chocolate, John currently resides in Guilford on the Connecticut shoreline with his wife, Debra Ann. You can contact John at or via Instagram @johntmuro.

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ISBN 979-8-9855621-1-8
First edition, 2022
176 pages

Copies of this book can be ordered
from all bookstores including Amazon.

The author can be reached at
or via Instagram @johntmuro.


Copyright © 2022 by John Muro



I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   – Roethke


Early Sunday morning ambling in awe beneath
the dense canopies of trees, their scarlet
satchels slung across the rounded shoulders
of boughs and dangling like the languid arms
of neighbors still loafing abed. Now a starless
silence gives way to the hiss of sprinklers popping
up their tiny, saw-toothed heads, dispensing looping
sprays of water like a benediction; the rhythmic
repetition of plumes in precise industry splintering
into prisms of light, a carousel of mists and arcing
streams as the metallic rustle slows and abandons ear,
giving way to the sweet happenstance of birdsong,
the brittle scuttling of fallen leaves and slack channels
of blue unspooling among mottled river stones of cloud.


La Passeggiata


Daylight drawing down
and a meager light lingers
enticing the curious
out into a confluence
of sun and shadow –
older men inclined
to reverie humming
to themselves and
women moving from
behind the solitude
of windows licked
by early evening sun
to take in the recurring
dream that forms near
dusk when summer air
cools and bestows a
blessing to each sense:
the sputtering gurgle
of fountains; the scent
of cypress, cedar and
thyme; the faint song
of a wingless thrush;
and the late spooling
of clouds slowly
giving way to the
purpling of air and
bronze rivets of stars
boarding up the sky.



In March


It is the pause that comes between
the seasons breathing in and out,
hillsides neither white nor green:
a landscape that’s note-
worthy for its rampant emptiness.

Clouds of coal-dust in gritty sheen 
curl tight as wood-knots;
the deeper silence of leafless trees
with baffled boughs 
beneath a sky forever bleak and sunless.

The damp fragrance of fields, thinned
by frost. Caught in the throat
of a small bird – a winter wren
perhaps – an expiring note
that drifts to whisper or something less.

Holding out for the sequin-
bright air, moon-burst fraught,

when life wells up from these rutted fields and trees
in hungry thrust, turning from what is now
but a world of damp and dreary idleness.


Awaiting Autumn


Even on the best of days, I confess
to a want to hurry summer towards
its end, and welcome the lessening
of sun and indolent mornings that
open into the luminous down of blue
afternoons, and take in the descent
of bereaving mists that drift over
hills of hard-woods thru gaunt groves
of birch and fern, then hauntingly
linger within a split-rail expanse
of pasture, and what little is left of
leaves hang like bandages clotted
by the dried blood of autumn.
But that season of grief and going
remains a life-time distant, tucked
beneath the crawl-spaces of these
encrusted cottages that are slowly
sinking into the strand, or loosely
cradled somewhere beyond the fetid
plunder of salt-marsh framed by the
sash of a double-hung window,
cracked glass adorned with chapped
paint and spittle, leaning away from
land, panes open to the undulations
of petitioning surf, gull-squabbling
skies and the ruffling of laundry
strung across yards like nautical
flags signaling our meek surrender.


Aegean Pools


The last of the receding tides
settles like glaze in deep crevices
of coral, leaving cauldrons of porous
rock with a radiant blue so pure,
so lavish, so filled with afternoon
sky, I’d readily bypass the mouth’s
cold chalice and narrow candle of throat
and inject it whole. To hurry the feel,
without faltering, of dazzling azure
as it diffuses like an accelerant inside
the body, bubbling spume, expelling
a life’s worth of afflictions. Besotted,
I’d hear the saline course across
the ancient aqueducts of the heart
and between the rungs of my ribs,
spooling through misshapen threads
of sinew, traversing trenches of
marrow, then towering up and into
the ruffled blossom of brain. 
Jeweled flesh – fully infused –
and soul embrace the purge and
sweet corruption of bone and body.
And I see that I’ve become an
inflamed, blue-bright ghost,
unshelled and in damaged glory,
able to taste, at last, this beckoning,
bountiful and alien world.



In Late September


Near wakefulness beneath a grove of milk-
blue pines, needle-dripping boughs cuffed
by wind, the scent of balsam settling deep
within my lungs, while a crescent moon
severs the horizon, parting stars that are not
stars, their light’s origin coming from somewhere
beyond these meandering valleys where
colors burn aloud and dusky foothills bend
back from the horizon, I weigh the tiny
pieces of ore or solder gleam I culled from
pools of quiet water and placed deep
inside my pockets where they will stay, like
tokens, to buy-back this day and whatever else
is left of a season that’s slowly moving away from us.


Great Blue


With morning’s weight falling
away and a light fog lifting, I
caught sight of you, still as an
in-drawn breath, on the periphery
of a bay that was calm as pasture.
Gold-eye bright and tall as a child,
your sleek canal of neck funneled
a terrace of dusky blue into your
coin purse of body, eerily motionless,
as if you were in some nautical
stupor wondering how best to
navigate this middle stretch of life
or how to hold on to those things
that sometimes resurface only to
turn and fall away again, or perhaps
weighing how we might continue
to bear all that tethers us to earth –
at least until a wind swept you up
and led you, in tedious flight, across
tidal pools that smelled of salt hay
and the damp mantle of marsh,
early light sliding from your wings
as you became more phantom than bird,
a thing indistinguishable from the
tongues of tides or a cloudless patch of sky.



Forsaking flight, trailing this lavish sprawl
of plume, bird’s a spectacle of excess –
a luminous firmament floating near to
ground, a mardi gras of green that’s falling
into an overbrimming muss
of Byzantine gold and sapphire blue.

Legs should buckle from the weight of it all,
yet colors cascade from the hair-pinned crest
through the tapered stalk of neck, swarm into
the jeweled body and ornamental tail
that’s unfurled in iridescent drench, dressed
like a sorcerer’s quilt some blunder of wind blew

up from ground. An opulent altar of artifice, the bird
prefers a wan and wasted earth to the fabled blue of higher air.




Seeking nothing more than a patch
of shade and the calm expanse of
shallows, I’ve once again given
up on myself and struck at the
shimmer of light that rides atop
each low-slung wave – a delicate
dapping cast on monofilament
by easterlies towards this secluded
shore and I know enough about
fate to see that this day will surely be
one when only desperate souls
are caught and then mercifully
released after summer’s gaff,
pewter-weighted, has lifted
me from my haunches towards a
benign heaven or at least that’s
how the dream begins before
evening’s emptiness when the
moon, in measured ascent,
maneuvers away from the
horizon and wades out into
the braided channels of sky,
using wisps of clouds as leaders,
while casting the luminous scatter
of more distant and nearer stars.


After the Death of a Friend


Because I’ve grown weary of blue
and want nothing more than a soundless
space to hide and heal, I choose this
darker hour of dusk and late-in-autumn
air. The foreboding, slow-moving clouds
of lurid violet and indigo ease into
evening while the season’s last leaves
tilt and drip finespun streams of fleece
onto long tufts of grass. And I see how
yet another day’s ending before it’s begun
with too much loss, and how easily we
collect and coddle despair, and how
the senses, too, like the many memories
of you I sought to preserve, become
diminished things and this hobbled
muscle of heart would just as soon
utter its final farewell and leave this
world, following the moon’s round
rind in slow transit upon a drowsy
wind with its unsettling truths of
fertile decay, colder days without
purpose, and the still-becoming darkness.




They make the most of the raw
poverty of our breath, taking
leave from the blighted canyons
of our lungs and, in haunting
timbre, give eloquent voice to
anguish. Barely able to hide
their sadness, they make visible
the holes in our hearts, our bent
towards darkness and the beautiful
blemish of afflictions that often
come upon us like a sudden
abundance of dusk rising through
a narrow embouchure or the
moist lip of a wooden reed




Last night, I fell to dream
of Castle Combe,

its shambling mists and tawny stream,
the holy pathos of its homes.

Wind-washed clouds, the lunar gleam
of cream-colored stone.

And there, somewhere between
drowsy dusk and day, I stood alone

in fevered dream,
in Cotswold cold,

woke to air, moon-tide dimmed,
and the lulled hush of wool-

soft hymns
with all hope gone