He was Anansi and tricked the children into parting with
a pack of new markers
a backpack lanyard
and tied up a child in his web in the coatroom. 
“Why didn’t you call out?” their teacher scolded.
“It was a test,” the child cried with feverish pride. “Did I pass?”
And the child wept with joy as Anansi 
and winked.

He was the Troll at the bus stop for weeks extorting delightful quantities of
super balls
sour gummy sea life
and one golden dragon figurine.
“How could you let this happen?” parents berated the bus monitor.
“You must give it all back,” they said. Except the candy. Long ago it was 
consumed by his troll teeth with much
and snarling. 

He was the Sphinx crouched in a cardboard cave with a candle and children abandoned 
dangerously high swings
dangling from monkey bars
and danced over the balance beam to visit him. 
“Answer my riddle or die,” he whispered. “Why was the apple so lonely?”
“I don’t know,” replied the visitor. 
The Sphinx ignited the box and left. The adults pulled the visitor out after they
smelled the smoke
saw the cloud 
and no crying.

He was Hansel when the sweet substitute teacher arrived and revealed that she would  
laugh when we were noisy
pretend she never got mad
and treat us with toys and candy. 
“She wants to eat you,” he proclaimed. “All witches do.” 
But with our silver he promised to save us all so we handed over our 
and earrings. 

He gave her the dried bone. 
He named her
and she dragged him away. The next day we reclaimed our silver and of course he returned and the witch was no where to be seen. He was
and heroic.