Poets & Writers

A Poet a Day: James Autry

"Messages of Hope for the Cynical World"

A Poet a Day: James Autry

During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.”
— Bill Moyers

Poet and former publishing executive James Autry is the author of several books of poems and practical philosophy. In this original poem written for the pandemic, he sees the poetry around us in the time of corona.

“Messages of Hope for the Cynical World”

They arise from chalk on city sidewalks,
from voices rising in song from balconies
creating impromptu choirs.
From westerners who venture outside
and howl at the moon with the coyotes.
From the syncopated city rhythms
surging from improvised drums.

All expressions of life and unity,
All affirmations of our need for one another,
All ways of saying stay well,
Instead of saying goodbye.


Poet and former publishing executive James Autry is the author of several books of poems and practical philosophy, including Looking Around for GodThe Servant LeaderLove and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership and his latest, Choosing Gratitude: Learning to Love the Life You Have.

During his 30 years at Meredith Corporation, Autry was known as one of the most respected magazine executives in America. Beginning as a copy editor of Better Homes and Gardens in 1960, Autry worked his way up to the role of editor-in-chief. By the time he retired, Autry was senior vice president of Meredith Corporation and president of its magazine group — a $500 million operation with over 900 employees.

Watch Bill’s full interview with Autry from 2012.

See all poets in the A Poet a Day Collection.

Featured images: Chalk drawings in Alameda, CA; People in windows and on balconies in NYC; woman banging on pot in Brooklyn, NY; “We Are All in This Together” mural by artist Mike Fudge courtesy of the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Colorado Springs, CO.