A resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. He has had a life-long passion for poetry, music and art, and his professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation. Not surprisingly, the natural world remains an enduring source of inspiration for his work. John’s first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published in 2020 by Antrim House and it is available on Amazon. Since that time, John’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Acumen, Barnstorm, Euphony, Grey Sparrow, Moria, River Heron and Sky Island. In 2021, John was twice-nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Pastoral Suite, his second volume of poems, was published in June of 2022 by Antrim House and it, too, is available on Amazon. John’s works have been praised by several nationally recognized poets.
The poems in John Muro's first book, In the Lilac Hour & Other Poems, move with a sure hand between closed forms (especially sonnets), invented forms, poems after writers like Keats and Frost, and free verse; and they are committed to seeing and honoring the passing of seasons, of friends and family, and to the birds and flowers that constitute the local reality of our everyday lives. Looking closely and surely at the world around him, Muro's descriptive abilities are everywhere apparent.
IN THIS HOUR OF RESPITE
In this hour of respite Tangled in drooping dark, Porch lights turning out, Stars brittle-bright glint.
Frail senses wander, Spy the flitting black Smudge of bats; crack Of doors that linger
Long on pneumatic air; Pondside, the muffled plop Of a kingfisher, perhaps, Pitched clear
Of willow. Lavender Scents from the gardens Drift past; a distracted wren Discerned in a queer
Shaft of moonlight. Relief meant to mean Something between The darkness and light.
IN THE LILAC HOUR
In the lilac hour, The growing green season slows; The ache to fruit and flower Recedes. the want to grow,
For a time, Gives way to a soft easing And a divine Purpling of grass and trees.
Wind is quelled, The mellifluous sparrow, The tumbled crunch of gravel Underfoot, hushed; the glow
Of oriole-bright lanterns, Displaces a moon of shook foil, Stars in leaf-bowed branches burn And burn; ash drifts to soil.
A damp fragrance lingers, Grafts to tongue And so, to ear, creak of hinge From the garden gate.
Remembering Now, the brighter blur, The quickening of things, Before the ever after.
Careworn from days convulsed by sun And the stale heft of midsummer air, We hear a healing pour from where Rows of sweet birch run To darkness but still ladle light.
Dry waves of wind pick up, reveal An intermittent flash of plumage; Gigue-quick fluster amid foliage Or feather flared to sorrel, Green to brown and white.
Hours tossed in tumult seem to settle And hold apace; we are content To remain here for a moment, Perhaps an hour until The soft withdrawal of light.
Sensing this, an easeful cadence Tumbles to earthbound ear; Woodlands, in turn, appear To ache in silence – Sound displaces sight.
The permeable down of song Comes to nest in us, Melts shade to solace – The timbre of other tongues In dappled light.
A sudden slap and flurry of wings, Branches blur in fitful bustle; Bird now indistinguishable From leaves; something Of or from the night.
The poems in Pastoral Suite 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 a world of calm.
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.
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.
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.