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  • Fred Smith

A Police Officer's Prayer: a poem by James E. Tokley, Sr.

When asked of my influences, I'm aware most people expect me to answer with household names. I can oblige, but seldom do. That's because I'm lucky as hell to be surrounded by great artists--each of whom has left an indelible impression on my creative soul. None may have influenced me more than James Tokley.

I wrote a story a few years back called "The Poet's Laureate." It's about a rebellious kid with an unfocused artistic flair who learns what matters in life from a dying poet. Anyone who's read the story and knows me well can see Tokley in the text. He's there. The words invoke a baritone philosophy that's pure Tokely. Unmistakably Tokely.

I can't write like the great poet, but I can immortalize him (at least for my own keeping) by basing one of my most beloved characters on him. I can also preserve his legacy by recording him so future generations can understand what it was like to have lived in the world when words mattered and could make us realize what was really important.

As Tampa's Poet Laureate, Tokley gave our fair city a trove of poems that should be cherished forever. I've got a nice little collection that I'm helping him deliver to the online world via social media (you can't teach an old poet new tricks, because they're so damn charming you end up doing the trick yourself).

This little video--"A Police Officer's Prayer"-- is a solemn and powerful ode to our cities' finest. The images are from Google and the soundtrack is from the film End of Watch. The words are Tokley's. Unmistakably Tokely.

A Crack in the Room Tone

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