Bryanna Licciardi


Carl Eugene Watts later claimed that he had killed 40 women,
and has also implied that there were more than 80 victims in total.
He would not confess outright to having committed these murders,
however, because he did not want to be seen as a "mass murderer."

- Article about infamous serial killer

He liked me to call him Coral, liked the way it slowed
down my syllables, and he always preferred things slow.

That’s why he did what he did. He wrote that each murder
made his belly feel slow, and warm, like he’d drank too much,

made everything soft around him, even the bodies at his feet.
He tried to explain them to me, his women. One letter said

he enjoyed the pretense of blood, the way its color was never
what you expected. I said I understood, or that I would try,

because Coral and me were fated, even if he scared me.
Some famous lady once said that you should do the things

that scare you. When you’re afraid, life means something else.
Like how he said he imagines the slow way my blood would someday

paint his fingers. Mass murderer wasn’t the right term for him. Makes it
sound like he didn’t take his time. Coral said he always took his time.

Before he died, I tried to warn him. The dryness of his hands,
how everything in jail moved way too fast. If he got my letter,

he would’ve known it wasn’t the cancer killing him.
It was his stomach—his heart—emptied and shrinking.

Bryanna Licciardi has received her MFA in poetry and is currently pursuing a PhD in literacy studies. Her work appears in such journals as BlazeVOX, Poetry Quarterly, Cleaver Magazine, Adirondack Review, and Dos Passos. Visit to read more about her work.


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