I D K     I S S U E     5


bernice mbadugha

Dark Riffs

The wild hyssop’s petals
are eaten now. Hush:
a quickened thrust—
a body new and rife
displaces the lacuna
the way a gardener’s
spade suffuses humus
into a newly-opened hole.
4,000 descendants of Cerberus
bow in place. All
howl amid the bloom
of solar-powered lights. Release
the raveled hem of my brighter-
colored sister: she has done for you
what she could.
My face is dark.
My soul is deep. Yes,
please stay a while. I promise
I will tell you my real name.


Bernice Mbadugha’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Drumvoices Revue, The Bread Loaf Journal, Callaloo, Gyroscope, and several anthologies, most recently It’ll Come Like the Rain Fallin’—A Tribute to Sonia Sanchez. Mbadugha earned an MA from Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English. Previously, she received a BA in Comparative Culture from University of California, Irvine. She has attended Rutgers-New Brunswick Writers’ Conferences, Writing in Place in Spartanburg, SC, and the 2018 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Mbadugha teaches English at a psychiatric and behavioral health hospital in New Jersey, where she lives with her Ridgeback, Billie.