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Our poet will go it alone, alas

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By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

The untold drama
of our time?
Tampa's poet laureate
may soon resign.

This is no joke,
no rumor, no hunch.
He told me himself
the other day at lunch.

At HoHo's on Howard
(right after the soup)
James Tokley confessed:
He's flying the coop.

He plans to step down
(maybe go to the mall?)
after Mayor Dick Greco
leaves City Hall.

How will we survive,
no rhymes in our head?
(Will roses turn blue?)
(Will violets turn red?)

James tries to explain
his primary reason
for a change of heart
that borders on treason:

He's enjoyed the prestige,
the glamour, the glory; yet
he senses it's time
for a new poet laureate.

He figures young poets
are eyeing his job
(the way people with dentures
eye corn on the cob).

He's ready to go,
for better or worse.
He'll stand in the way
of no writer's verse.

He tells that to others
with rhymes in their cup.
"Young poets," he says.
"Their eyes light up!"

You think you can write?
Your English is hallowed?
"Tampa," James purrs,
"is a field that is fallow."

He chronicles the days,
of this, his fair city.
He's written the ode,
the epic, the ditty.

He could have become
a banker or builder.
Instead he immortalizes
such men as Bob Gilder.

He could have run off
with an all poet-band.
Instead he stays here
and rhymes on demand.

Once when required
to honor crape myrtle.
He struggled for words
and came upon "turtle."

This much I know:
His glory won't fade.
(A good thing, perhaps,
since he never got paid.)

-- Once Grand Central
was Tampa's main street.
It's now a weekly column,
one that's complete.

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