Anything You Say

Anything you say can and will be used
to make children uneasy, to make them
sleep. You tell tales to the children
dreaming to the dragon-keep, where all
the pale maidens have clear eyes,
modest hair, and breasts uncovered
only in the struggle deep in the heart
of the hero (you) who takes her
from her scaly, lascivious lover. O the look
in their eyes when they wake to your
weeping, keeping sleep away—first
in the magic of your voice
and then in what you say.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Anything You Say”?

Thinking how powerful and captivating stories can be, and of a person I knew who would rejoice in the role of a fairy tale villain.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Anything You Say”?

I played off familiar phrases in common usage, played with fairy tale imagery, and used rhymes and half-rhymes to add to the punch.

This poem “Anything You Say” originally appeared in On Dennis Lee. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 98 (Autumn 1983): 45-46.

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