Poems by Michael Chanteur*home


Here is a collection of nature poems by Michael Chanteur. (copyright 2015,all rights reserved).
For more of Michael Chanteur's poems, see his web page www.chansondesprit.net


Selected Poems by Michael Chanteur
click on title  or scroll down to see poem



Soul Summer
Paper Cups
One Last Poem
Nearly Fall
Winter Trees
Opossum and Me
Two Worlds
Summer Stock
Children of God
December Dusk
The Ascent
The Steward
The In-Between Time
Nature's Child
Late Spring
Mother Earth
Not for Man
Dry Earth
October Wasp
Two Deer
Snow,Not Christmas
Every Picture a Poem
The Love Lantern
The Visitor
Stop and See
Look Up

 Paper Cups

I saw two paper cups in the woods
hanging on a branch by their paper handles,
side by side with their covers neatly on.

I don't care for litter in the woods,
but I wonder if  upon the forest litter
there once stood two lovers, side by side,
the users of those paper cups.

I wonder if they touched hand to hand,
lips to lips,breath to breath, and felt the flow of life.
And perhaps the spring sap flowing so fully in the trees,
flowed also with the blood of those two hearts.

Then as some mock reminder of their visit,
they placed their empty cups upon a branch,
so that they might recall in passing the beauty of that day.
I would like to think it happened that way.

Soul Summer
by Michael Chanteur

It is our time. 
Nature kept us going in the warmth.
Spring and summer nurtured us.
Made us whole. 

But now it is our turn. 
As daylight fades and temperatures drop,
We must replace the seasons with ourselves.
Our hearts become our hearths,
And our souls the solar power.

Our smiles must be the sunshine,
Our love the absent warmth.
We must shine when the sun does not,
We must create when Nature pauses.

It is our duty.
It is how we go on, how we survive. 
It is better, of course, than spring growth
Or summer abundance. 

But most of us don't realize that. 
The physical and superficial are
Mostly what we choose. 
We do not see the light within,
Except when we have no choice. 




Well, you finally came.
The most somber month of the year.
Fall colors all but gone, and only brown remains.
It is cold, but not freezing; cloudy skies abound.
Cold chills us in and out.

November, most sober month.
End of the growing season, and of green leaves,
And of flowers.
Like a pall upon the landscape,
Reminding us of our own demise.
Month of the Poor Souls-aptly so.

Ghosts abound in your dark shadows,
Ever more, as the days grow shorter,
Beckoning us to share their gray world.
So, how do we cope with your barrenness?
How do we grieve the loss of life?
How do we reconcile life and death?

The Opossum and Me

We are not so different, you and I
Throwback to an earlier age.
Seeking survival through humble means.
Not offended by stale food put out.
Gladly devouring the scraps of life.

We are not so different.
Gray hair, rambling gait
Unassuming among others.
Dumb to the ways of hawk
And wolf, and the more evolved

Alone at night, guarded by God
by His invisible angels.
Plowing through the darkness
as through an inky fog,
Hoping for the solace of a stranger.


Nearly Fall.
Late summer gives us a hint
Of the color that is to come.
It shows up s a red or orange leaf
Here and there.
Asters starting to bloom
And summer flowers fading.
Despite a persistent daisy or two,
The signs are very clear.

 Fall, which seems like a descent,
Will soon be upon us.
We pray it will not be our fall,
But simply the rest God
Gives to Nature at the Equinox,
That equal night before the
Fall of light, the decline
Into the darkness of winter.

But, in Godís typical fashion,
There is a gift in the loss,
An extravagant gift of beauty.
The autumn colors nearly rival
The blooms of summer.
And yet, it is death we see,
Not life nor reproduction,
But the ebb of the verdant time.

 And so, we welcome Fall. or
Autumn; we can do little else.
Immersed in its beauty, we are
Victims of our frail nature,
Enamored of what is transient.
Acting as if it will never end,
We ignore the stark reality
Of the barrenness that must follow


Never again will that cloud
Have that shape,nor even exist.
Never again will that flower bloom,
Nor that leaf reflect,
Nor will the wind blow that way,
Nor the light ever be the same.

Because God's song is both
Infinite and transient.
We know, we see, we want
To believe that moment
Will last forever.
But it does not.

So we photograph,or paint,or write,
Anything, to stop the moment,
To wake us up to the beauty
Of everyday.
We are Zen failures, doing what we can.

Someday, in a time transcendent,
We will see, and we will know,
and we will love all that is.
That cloud, that flower,
That silent smile shall remain,
In the twilight of Infinity.

  return to poem indeSelected Poemsx

Two Worlds

Too bad we live in two worlds,
The mundane and the sublime.
Too bad we like what we see more than what we know.
Too bad. But God understands,
And saves us from ourselves,
From our remarkable stupidity He saves us,
And sends us Truth.


Well, rain, you come again.
Just as our mud and mediocrity
Have made us stagnant,
You come booming down,
Winding through our souls
In cool rivulets.

  return to poem index



Little wooden churches
Within whose heartwood soma
Men praise their God by day,
And sleep beneath at night.
White, barkfree temples, who in
Time will bless the Lord in
Blue-stem and sunflower,
And with each season and year,
Will love in yet another way.
Until within a green-canopied cathedral
Will animals praise their God by day,
And sleep beneath at night.



I just want to watch the day come in,
And see the creatures that have no sin.
To hear the wind talk to trees
And feel the warm, caressing breeze.

I want to know why a mouse digs there,
And why the swallows churn the air.
Why do sunflowers face the sun,
And why are hydras always young?

How pleasant just to watch and see
The natural .lives of vole and bee.
With their daily chores they tell
A secret that is hidden well.

To spend my life in the wild,
Becoming Nature's foster child,
To see her creatures in play and strife,
As they weave the cloth of life.

   return to poem index



Its the greatest show on earth,
But the audience is preoccupied;
Few anticipate.
I, the stagehand, open the curtain,
And then, just a little.
The stars are already performing:
In the night sky, on the ocean floor,
In the fields next door.
In the wings I stand in awe,
But will the audience applaud?


Every morning now, for several days,
Common sparrows visit my patio.
They are still fuzzy from the nest,
And descend like balls of fluff.
Brash and dumb like most young,
They disregard my territory,
And feast on weed seeds and gravel.
One tries repeatedly to walk through
My patio door, refusing to accept
The reality of glass.
Like poor children, they seem
Unaware of their plight,
Of the harsh winter to come.
Rather, they fill their little bellies
With the seeds of plants we despise,
And move across the yard like the Farmer's chickens.

  return to poem index


The sumac heads grow,
Soon to turn red.
The grass is green - in spots.
The trees seem oblivious to
A late spring drought.
Yet, there is a lot of dry yellow
In the landscape, and crops
Teeter on the brink of insolvency.
But the real surprise is the resilience,
The way nature goes on, even in stress.
You'd think after forty days,
Plants and animals would give up.
But they withstand the temptation,
And go on to work miracles.


Summer Stock

It was quite a show.
Performers signed their names in song:
Chickadee and peewee,
Mourning dove and towee.
Downy and redhead tapped as well as sang.
Swallows danced.
The mockingbird did imitations.
And the whip-poor-will sang the closing song.

   return to poem index

Children of God

Children are our primal selves;
They have knowledge not found on shelves.
They delight in creatures adults would scorn,
And have a special love for the newly born.
A cave, a cove has a magic lure
For those whose primitive hearts are pure.

Children pretend so well, it seems,
Their minds still full of ancient dreams.
Children know our real roots,
How we once conversed with brutes,
How man and nature are truly one,
And how God made us from the Sun.

October Wasp

What must it be like
To be an October wasp?
Not a queen who will survive
Until the spring, but a worker,
An infertile sister with no future.

Those early October days are warm,
Almost hot, in the microworld of wasp.
Maybe it still returns to the vacant nest
In a vain, tragic search, or seeks
Sweet nectar of the last flowers.

What must it be like?
Does it realize the end is near?
Does it know that, warm or cold,
It will perish, like autumn leaves?
Or is it clueless of its fate?

Once fearful, the faint buzzing now
Is more like a sad refrain of despair.
We know, I suppose, better than she,
The sad end to its lifeís journey,
As it flies about, thinking it is spring.

December Dusk

So, darkness comes to the woods.
At last we get our chance.
Opossum , raccoon, mouse-
All the creatures of the night.
We can emerge and play.
What fun.
Above, the stars wink at us.
Engulfed are we by the smooth darkness,
Told by each an angel what to do.
We, the stuff of stars, animated by
The Great Creator, the God of all.
What fun.

   return to poem index

The Ascent

Our images flowed from within,
But had constraints without.
Silver crystal by crystal.
We edged along the cliff
Of creativity

Fearing the fall, but also
Fearing the ascent
To God, to Man, to the
True Self that resides within,
We struggled

"What were you thinking of
When you took that picture?"
Asks one puzzled Scott,
An engineer of this artistic

We should have answered,
"We were thoughtless, mindless-
Embracing the Zen of photography,
Hoping that the God-Force would
Shine through"

Sometimes it did.
For some the Eternal Light
Was bright; but for others
It was a candle flickering
In the dark

Had we only known the secret:
"Let go; you are only a channel,
A conduit for the Universe.
Trust. Wait.
The images will come"

And so they did.
When we let the Universe
Flow through, the images came,
And identified themselves:
"We are you"

  return to poem index

The Steward

I am the steward, I am the one,
Who checks the rising of the sun.
I , the watcher, I take care,
That each creature has its share.

I check the prairie's morning dew,
Make sure each flower has its hue.
I insure the ice goes out,
And that redwings fly about.

I see that cattails grow and bloom,
And the sky has enough room.
I watch to see that water's blue,
and that rain is always new.

My work is hard, but has its joy,
As I labor in God's employ.
And with the setting of the sun,
My steward's work is finally done



Enter the realm paenespring
Where the blossom buds are shy,
And the birds have not been told,
Its time to fill the sky.
The hills do not realize that
Brown is obsolete,
And the creatures of the forest floor
Have yet their love to meet.

   return to poem index

Nature's Child

There she went.
A deer into the woods.
Sprung loose from her graze
By a barking dog.
Puzzled first, more than scared,
Camouflaged so keenly
Against the leafless trees.

There she went.
White rump flagging,
As if unaware of this giveaway.
Bounding, then walking.
Confident even in the noon sun
Of an April day.

   return to poem index


She would share my coffee,
Drunk slowly on an open porch.
Brazenly she lands on the cup,
Wanting a drink,
Though the spring has been wet.

Fearful creatures, really.
The mere sight scares most.
Me too, until my brain kicks in.
Harmless, most of the time,
Unless you're near their nest.

But I chased her away,
Not minding the company,
But familiarity has boundaries,
And she ought to know that,
Since she also guards her property.

Late Spring

The lilacs are gone
and the sun is setting.
Robins warble relentlessly
In this new spring,
Wet, fresh, green and ready
For the surge of life.

Biomass will increase.
The Mass of the earth begins
Again, another time,
Holding up as victim
The death that winter meant.

And we celebrate that death
In the hope of life,
And in remembrance of the
Life that was lost,
Until that final re-birth
and final resurrection.

  return to poem index


Their name evokes grimaces:
Dirty birds, pests, a noisy blight
Upon the land.
Unimpressive in flight, ungainly on foot,
We see no beauty or grace
In this rude import.

Yet , we brought them here,
For Shakespeare's sake,
And ultimately are to blame.
Like the dandelion, they are
Captives that prospered
With our help.

Why then, do we blame these victims
Of our short-sighted ness?
And why do we begrudge them their
Success, against all odds?

  return to poem index

Mother Earth

You sigh, we tremble.
How badly we have treated you
Over the millennia,
Violating the laws
God set in place for your care..

Native peoples knew better,
They knew how your milk
Nurtured them, and kept them whole.
We, bastard children of technology, know less,
Know nothing of our debt to you,
Our Gaia.

Like your Creator,
You are endlessly patient,
Forgiving our obscene trespasses
Which have left you scarred.
But , unlike God, you are not immortal,
But could succumb to our rude

One day, you may die,
Overcome by the wounds
We heap on you each day.
And if you die, what will
Become of us ,
And what will become ofÖ
The New Jerusalem?

   return to poem index

Not for Man

We can't go there.
We can't go where the caribou graze
Nor ptarmigan browse, nor where
Any wild creature goes.
Oh.we can drive ,
Or hike, or ski there,
But we can never really be there.

Save for a few, we cannot
Risk like the animals do.
We know too much.
We cannot follow the flow of nature,
For,in so doing ,we would die before out time.

The brute beasts do not know,
Do not care, where the path will lead them.
We see, we marvel at their feats,
But can never duplicate them,
Except at the peril of our lives.

We admire, project, dream,
But realize that our intellect
Has forever sealed us off
From the wild abandon that
Makes nature so alluring.

  return to poem index

The In -Between Time

There should be a special name given to this time
between the winter holidays and spring.
A time past the brief warmth of Valentineís
yet before the longer warmth of the vernal sun

Someone should record this time of faint promise
too far away to really take seriously.
For the pious there is Lent, aptly scheduled for
when even the Earth seems penitent

In this in-between time, we see relics of the past,
some Christmas decorations still on houses,
whether out of procrastination or maybe
finding it hard to let go of a brighter time

It is a time when man has run out of ways
to brighten up the bleak, cold season,
long, long before nature begins her
riotous avalanche of buds and blossoms

For the young, whose clock runs slow,
this time must seem like an eternity.
A time when nothing much is happening
as light begins its slow rise to ascendancy

But for those who have seen a lot of winters,
there is that ever so slight hint of anticipation.
One day, the February sun seems warmer,
another day a bud more swollen than before

It is a good time, this time, for reflection,
before the cacophony of spring.
A time when the Earth seems almost at a standstill
Even as reservoirs of sap surge silently upward.


Dry Earth

I like the dry, dusty earth
That precedes spring.
When winter has left its flotsam and jetsam
Strewn over the landscape.

 There is, as yet, no sign of life.
The only hint is the now-warm sun,
And the dry, cracked earth
Awaiting spring rain.



what a paradox

the march sun is hot
while the air is ice
spring, approaching ,yet hidden
winking slightly to us, unawares.


We wish for winter to end

having had enough of bleakness

we anticipate the spring, though
have not done much to prepare


then, suddenly, it is warm
and the buds open, flowers appear
in a way, our souls are still frozen,
and we are resistant to the light


the winter has chilled our hearts

and souls, and we fear the warmth

will thaw us too fast, so that
ice crystals will pierce our heart

return to poem index

Two Deer

Two deer in the wood.
Sad, really. Only yearlings.
Orphaned by hunters in the fall.
They wander the hills like spirits,
Tenuously going here and there,
Appearing and disappearing,
As if unsure of their reality.

Snow, But Not Christmas

Snow, but not Christmas.Too late for that.
Weíre into March now and all the  decorations are gone.
Thereís snow, but itís not Christmas,and we are confused:
Looking for holly and mistletoe,
But all of that is gone

We were fooled by the white fluff
That did not fit our scheme of things.
What to do with this snow,
With this frozen manna from above
When the holidays are long gone?

Nature seems to know, so March snows donít last.
They come down with a fury, but soon melt away.
With nostalgia we see these late snows and recall
the fleeting joy of the holidays.
It was as if the cold outside was needed to
warm our hearts.

Every Picture a Poem

Every picture is a poem,
every scene a dance.
Every view of Godícreation,
a step closer to it in heaven.

Each time we see some beauty,
an animal or plant or scene,
we see a part of God revealed,
hidden until that time.

We really should have known,
that God is not in our drives,
or foolish mind that wanders,
but in the Inner Self that sees.

Passivity , in the end, is our goal,
since we make nothing by ourselves.
It is better at first to only look,
and then vainly try to imitiate.

What can we ever do better than love,
better than admire, better than adore?
And all of these require distance,
and the prostration of the soul.

return to poem index

The Love Lantern

The love lantern is out
in all the usual places.
Without its light you
cannot search for love

You put it out yourself
to hide from pain,
but you also hid from love,
and now you need its light

The love lantern must burn bright
to find souls open to love.
Only the brighest flame will
show you the way.

Ignite the love lantern,
keep it filled with fuel.
Do not let it ever go out
again, itís all you have

When you meet your Judge
your success will matter.not.
All that will really count is
that you kept the lantern lit.


One Last Poem
by Michael Chanteur

I will sing a song for you,
And it is for me as well.
It's of wooded glens and flowered fields,
And the sound of the whip-poor-will.

It's of mossy beds and crystal streams,
The quiet of fluttering wings,
The knowledge of the animals,
And of their ancient dreams.

The joy of blue sky overhead,
Of trees as tall as steeples,
Of churches made of evergreens,
And of all the woodland peoples.

It's of cattails and of salamanders,
Of eagles and of waxwings,
Of cuckoos and of cowbirds.
And of all that your heart sings.

We are two spirits that drifted close,
Then drifted far apart.
We shared a view of what we knew,
Of what was in our heart.

Now our time has passed, the year has passed,
And I ask you only this:

When you see a forest fresh and new,
With the rich green hue of spring,
When flowers grow from sleeping seeds,
Think of the song that I sing.

When geese fly over with their wondrous honk,
When an animal's child you see,
When trees are budding on a clear, warm day,
Please then think of me.

And I in turn will watch the spring,
And wonder what I missed.

by Michael Chanteur

Don't you see?
I saw a pure white dove against a cold blue sky.
And I talked to the animals that dumbly listen.
And I saw children and grown-up children.
I walked with memories,and thought of joy and love.

Don't you see?
Somewhere, out there and in my mind,
there is great peace, and love, and joy.
And somewhere there is a Light,
so bright, so warm, that to dwell in it is ecstasy.

Don't you see?
There is a purity of mind and spirit.
There is a soaring, an incredible peace,
where the only sound is the passing of thoughts that are not there.
There is a vastness, a oneness,an emptiness that is at the same time full.

Don't you see? There is life.
A movement, a oneness, a completeness,a clearness.
There is a speed so fast as to be motionless.
There is an infinitesimal smallness that is vast.
Don't you see?

Winter Trees
by Michael Chanteur

Still we hear your dendrites chanting,
in the still and frozen air,
at the sunset in the evening,
when the sky is red and clear.

Bare against the sky we see you,
naked branches reaching up.
In your starkness, in your outline,
we see our yearning and our hope.

To those whose summer was spent in loving,
leafless, lifeless do you appear.
But to the the lonely, to the longing,
your being now is silent prayer.

In the quiet of the winter,
in the season's ice and snow,
you are blossoms of the cold earth,
flowers from the long ago.

Beauty seen and beauty hidden,
the sky, the earth, the trees are one.
When your limbs are free of cover,
we see that love has just begun.

by Michael Chanteur

Should I die, don't weep for me,
for this life was ill-conceived at best.
Whatever is beyond may be a better place,
somewhere this soul can finally rest,
and find the peace that has eluded it so long.

If some day while I walk,
the winds choose to sweep me up
and fling me body and soul through
the turbulent sky, then maybe I
will become a part, maybe I
will become the substance of clouds
and of air, and plant and animal alike
will breathe me in and out.

Maybe I will drift over the entire Earth
and view from a drifting cloud
the great continents below.
And I will sail over the highest mountains,
and over seas with waves like mountains.
And below me I will see streams and rivers,
flowing steadily toward the sea.

Maybe I will become the air I breathe,
and be part of the power that moves
the heads of trees in a storm, or sends
snow-white clouds drifting on a sunny afternoon.

The Visitor
by Michael Chanteur

You had a visitor last night,
who entered while you slept
and left before you woke.

"I saw you sleeping there and
put into your restless dreams
a thought of times gone by.
I wandered noiselessly through
the rooms of your house and mind:

the efforts of the present impinged on me
and I recorded faithfully the etchings I saw there.
I have dreamed your dreams and thought your thoughts
and all but acted out the gropings of your life."

Not Yet
by Michael Chanteur

I will go to war-but not yet.
I will catch and hurl the hot metal
that must mean my death.
But first there is a chore to do:

Those wild berries grown sweet
and warm in the August sun
need my humble tongue to taste
and tell someone of them.

Just let me feel the summer rain
and fear the thunder an lightning,
smell the ground when fresh and wet,
and hear the crickets' nightly song.

Let me see a woodland stream
running dark and smooth and green.
Let the pungent summer air
fill my lungs with breath.

There is a sunset I have not seen.
There is a flower without a name.
That young girl needs my caress.
I will go to war and fight.

But not yet.

Stop and See
by Michael Chanteur

All I did was stop and see,
Nature did the rest for me.
Raised the camera to my eye,
Called it mine, though a lie.

She shone the sunlight on the sea,
Swirled the clouds so marvelously,
Darkened the skies as evening fell,
Cast shadows on the wave's swell.

Nature combed the grasses with the wind,
Filled with light where none had been.
Made the image,made it be.
All I did was stop and see.

Look Up
by Michael Chanteur

When deep in the business of life,
and living is one day's work to another's  rest,
and you start to feel that
accepting and rejecting is essence:
Look up. Look up at the night's sky,
and know your bigness and smallness.

In that blue-black heaven lose yourself
in the miracle of stars, and drift in the
knowledge of time and space uniting,
and mortality and immortality held question.
Look up and know boredom and work
to be half-realities, and wonder.


by Michael Chanteur

Clouds so think and rich upon an azure soup.
White billows, puffed and creamy.
Mountains so far away, yet near.
Impossible to touch,impossible to climb, 
except with the ice ax of imagination.
They are the substance of dreams,
the hope of flight.
To live in those mountains, those castles
is ecstasy; the flight so fine. 




 Michael Chanteur is a friend of mine I met when I was in college at the University of Illinois
in Urbana. He studied literature while in college, but never got his degree. Now, he basically
wanders around, doing odd jobs while writing poetry. I like his work and so asked him if he would grace my web site with his verse. As you can see, he agreed. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

-Alan Spevak