A Tavern Folktale

laughing, carelessly, 

your name slips from their grinning mouths sloshing sips of ale 

while covered in tavern warmth 

your wingspan! they vaunt, 

wider than the snowy mountains, 

your fire—fierce and fervid as the sun! 

a hoard that would spill over the oceans 

guarded by tapered teeth dripping blood 

from freshly crushed corpses. 

there’s no beast as strong, 

no human as greedy, 

no god as grand, 

and no world you couldn’t conquer! 


naive, starry-eyed men 

carrying bravery and little else 

climb our peaks of gold 

in search of glory, conquest! 

but in face of your armored skin— 

stronger than dwarven iron 

and elven bronze— 

they realize no weapon can pierce your infernal heart.

from behind the cage of your curled claw, yellowed bone thick as earth 

and nearly as old, 

their regretful faces reflect on mine 

as the stars burn out. 

they become one of many, 

joining our collection of no-bodies 

no tale to their name 

and none to be gained— 

their only relevancy 

to be claimed by your maim. 

then, I’m grateful I’m beautiful enough 

to collect not kill 

silk skin of heaven white 

smooth and opaline 

worth more than

all your treasure combined— 

the kind of beauty that 

eternalizes my name! 

for they praise me 


revering me in their careless tavern folktales:

the dragon 

and its pearl.


Biographical Note: Jasmine Liang is currently studying Writing & Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara and plans to pursue writing as a career (if she won’t starve). Born and raised in California, her works feature recurring themes of the ocean and sunny but tiresome summers. She’s previously been a staff writer and editor for youth-run magazines. Now, she can be found doing photography, playing video games, or listening to the Chuckle Sandwich podcast. You can find her on her instagram @jasminexliang.