Bryanna Licciardi

At a Party, John Wayne Gacy Puts His Arm Around Me and Says We’ve All Been There Before

“When he killed, he sometimes dressed as his alter ego ‘Pogo the Clown.’”
-From a biography of the infamous serial killer

He smells like tequila
and I have no idea
what he’s talking about,
but since he’s drunk
and so am I,
I let him refill my glass.
You’re in the next room.
I can’t see you, but
your loud laugh carries
around the corner.
I wonder if you’re telling that joke
about the funeral parlor’s
layaway plan,
or if you’re flirting with
an older woman
who reminds you of your mother.
John looks like he’s asked a question,
like he’s waiting for me to answer.
For the first time,
I notice a tall hat on his head
tilting towards me,
his face painted up
like a sad clown.
With each sip he takes,
the red smears around
his lips a little more.
He’s still waiting,
so I say, Absolutely.
I guess it’s the right answer
because he grins, grabs my hand,
and starts pulling me
through the crowd. As we pass,
the partygoers drop dead.
Their bodies make music
against the floor,
soft and rhythmic.
He’s leading me up the stairs,
and, though I look back,
I can’t think
of a reason to stop him.

Previously published in 491 Magazine


Bryanna Licciardi has received her MFA in poetry from Emerson College. Her debut chapbook SKIN SPLITTING is out now from Finishing Line Press (August 2017). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and co-curates a local poetry reading series called Poetry in the Boro, founded by the Murfreesboro Poet Laureate. Her work appears in journals such as Poetry Quarterly, BlazeVOX, Northern England Review, Peacock Journal, Adirondack Review, and Cleaver Magazine. Check out for more.