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The Hoard-Stealers' Ball

The Hoard-Stealers' Ball
by Alex Harper

Entrance is by invitation only
and you must be wearing
treasure that you stole
and have a costume
that shows off skin
with talon marks or burns
to prove you got up-close.

If it's your first time you'll be surprised
when at midnight the dancers stop
and everyone sings, in tears,
the dragons' songs,
in unironic honour
to the beasts they bested,
because though they're mortal enemies
at times like this
they feel as close as kin,
far more so than the stealers
on the streets, or the petty thieves,
or the ordinary folk
who never lifted anything,
or braved the claws
and breath, or set out
on a quest not knowing
if they'd return alive,
for the chance
to come back decked
with scar tissue and gold,
but then discover daily life
doesn't cut it anymore,
and telling the old stories
just makes you miss the past,
and the singing makes you cry
for everything you've lost.

* * *

Alex Harper has poems forthcoming, or published, in Liminality, Eye to the Telescope, and Not One of Us, among others. He lives in England and can be found online at

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre? 

Tolkien, in his essay On Fairy-Stories, describes his experience of feeling that "the world that contained even the imagination of [Norse dragon] Fafnir was richer and more beautiful". I feel the same.