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Our poet will go it alone, alas

By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2002

The untold drama

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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