Dr. Gorgonzola of the Ripening Caves by Tantra Bensko

Dr. Gorgonzola of the Ripening Caves

Tantra Bensko


Dr. Gorgonzola, pale in the sun, cringes from its rays. Her globular hands curd themselves so tightly against the sky, clenched upon her anger, they drip residual whey.

Dr. Gorgonzola experiences non-linearly, as a semi-individuated part of her species. Momentarily she is nearly overcome by the moisture of remembering the atmosphere the day she was created by love centuries ago, in the Holy Ripening Caves. The upstart bacteria Starter. The homeland of the mold combination unique to the world. The past folded into her culture, which has continued from one batch of cheese to another since the inception. She lives her life fully in all those times at once. As all of those things together. All that life-force intense.

Her complex character, composed multitudinously of blue-green-grey molds and white-yellow cheese and bacteria, considers how she has been passed down through history. As, when each batch is made, some is held back to begin the next, Dr. Gorgonzola squeezes herself into a sweat to remember these transformations clearly. She wishes she’d never taken for granted that she contains some of the very first cell streams, reborn, eternal. She has been treated with great honor, naturally, based on her vast experience. She is the best of the best, and wants to feel pride at being finally put out, along with other cheese, on the wooden table in the demonstration area of the farm. She feels the lack of a true celebration of her roots through time, and the irony of what she has been placed there to do.

“Cheese!” she proclaims to the rest of her Gorgonzola species around her, quite telepathically. “You will soon, most all of you, be eaten. And whatever happens to you echoes through all of us, through all of our times! We are united!”

Her words reverberate back through the cavernous dripping throbbing pink cave walls of her past and echo forward into the usurpation by another, a nearby town. A town named Pasturo. A town which now has the gall to suddenly claim that it, it, is where Gorgonzola cheese began! Oh Gorgonzola cheese, that penicillinesque complex of intertwined personalities. Preposterous! This means war!

“Cheese, you will not only be eaten by TEETH, but the mouths will be saying as they chomp on your tender flesh: Alice, you know, Gorgonzola is actually an insignificant location. New evidence has been presented, supposedly, though I don’t have it on any strict authority, you understand . . .

Oh, really, Alice? I had thought it was important all this time! I thought that’s where the ripening caves were. But if they say so, then, well, now I don’t have to bother remembering how to spell the name of this damn town. This part of the Lomladies Cheese Tour always makes me want to take a nap. Gorgny, ghah!

And picture, too, dear cheesenesses, that with each word, each wrong, wrong word, plaquey TEETH are chomping down on you, when they could, if they wanted to be humane, let you slide down the throat quickly, without such prolonged and idle mastication mixed with the grimy saliva of lies and insults. Cheesishnes: Are we going to stand for that? I will lead the revolution!”


Imagine the taste of the strong female lead, which some people wish to relish in their room-temperature closets, their whiffen fantasies, their licks of her when she bends down, if they are lucky, round edges, smelly. Those men who relish her are licking their chops, are leering, as of course, they are required by law of fiction to do. But, what if they break that law? What if these men are in fact God-fearing decent citizens who just fucking like to eat cheese and have it be okay, okay? What if they don’t want to leer? They pat their lips with their cloth napkins, some of which are colorful indeed. They feel uncomfortable with being watched. They request privacy, and do not agree to being defamed in this way any further.


The mold’s swaggering penicillin Cousin listens to the Dr.’s fiery speech, and cheers, leers, twisting his voice into stridency.

He was the mold Big Pharma chose to use for making medicine. Ladidada! So Cousin gets to wear pink. Well, it’s an ugly color of pink!

Cousin mold had only approached Dr. Gorgonzola with force after he got his cocky up after being used to make antibiotics. He slammed the good Doctor up against a wall and she slid down, leaving wetness from her ripe back along it: ants crawled towards it quickly, it being so stationary, and all. Just waiting for them.

The Dr. and her Cousin are not on speaking terms.

Her speech is so loud, so inflammatory, he can hear her voice temporarily in spite of her block against him. He would love to see her go down. He roots for it by telepathically nudging the medicals who are using antibiotics, considering he has an in with them. The ones he sees every week he sends mental notes to: pretend the raw cheese is dangerous. That Gorgonzola cheese must be pasteurized to make it safe. Ha ha. Must be boiled alive!


The Starter bacteria part of Dr. Gorgonzola, which in fact instigated her insurrection, feels the untruth most pristinely. What Pasturo is claiming about the location of the Holy Begint doesn’t align with its clear memory of the charming past. Its cognitive dissonance searches for closure.

Less individuated than Dr. Gorgonzola, even while being folded through her, being part of her personality, as well as its own, Starter has the advantage of near ubiquitousness. Quoting the Dr.’s impassioned phrases, it tries to warn the rest of the cheese it’s integrated with: “You will soon be eaten by TEETH of the non-believers! Just look at those yellowy-white things, moving up and down. Them and their ways. Someone should do something to preserve our history. No more lies of convenience!”


The younger cheese around the Dr. becomes uneasy. Doesn’t want to appear paranoid. So when Dr. Gorgonzola warns it, it doesn’t want the rest of cheese to know it supports her. Secretly, it has felt doomed all along. The deep caves acidic. The birthing of the brand.


The Starter bacteria which is plunged inside Gorgonzola on a regular basis can’t help but show that it actually likes being forced to rape her. The shocking movement pleases it. Being put onto long metallic sharpnesses. Showing who’s boss. Entering that cheesy surface, creamy and soft inside. Starter gets excited.

Starter relishes being thrust into the center of the Dr., and releasing into her, spreading out through her ragged tunnels. It plumps, it fuzzes, rags, turns bluer. It presses against the walls of her tunnels with all its expansion. Its hydras eat as it grows larger, fuller, filling in the soft tunnels, pressing up against their sweat, merging with them, but not completely, not permanently. Starter and the Dr. continue to feel their desire to merge, to pull back, to merge, to scintillate, to kiss, to explode upon becoming too dry, into spores of forevermore.


Since tender youth, Dr. Gorgonzola’s genre cheesehood was regularly poked metallically, imprisoned in metal, and eaten. Dr. Gorgonzola is processing and transforming her PSTD. Metal rods coming at her, impregnating her with mold, poking her again, and again, making air holes for birthing of the blue. Yes, being poked with metal rods is what aging means to a Gorgonzola cheese. What have you got to complain about, ladies, aging being a matter of wrinkles on the skin? Well, Gorgonzola gets poked with spikes, creating air channels in order to permit the mold to grow into bulbous blue hyphae. What can she do but develop Stockholm syndrome fetish? As charmingly as possible.

The poking spikes make those embarrassingly blue, unattractive varicose-veins associated with more mature cheese. Some people can’t look beyond it, and get the shivers when they see the veins, all nasty and decaying and making them bloat if they put it in their tummies. But the veins are enforced whether the cheese wants them or not, so humans can have their culinary wishes, to prepare to consume, to digest with enzymes, to grind up and heat and smoosh into foul nastiness, and then to drop, and to forget, to pretend it no longer exists as it goes through sewers and disintegrates slowly, the cheese-mucus holding it together awhile.


Stockholm fetishes are like stinky cheese. Smelly blue veins of decay. Tasty as hell.


Meanwhile another vaguely distant part of the cheese is eaten elsewhere, and another part of it is gives new birth to new cheese. The eternal. The rebirth. The brightness of being. The light. The way.


Beauty of the cows transcendent. The cows eternal, their large auras floating around in the sky around the cheese, around the beef eaters, leather wearers, blessing them, loving them. Once dead, their spirits finally able to stretch their lips to smile. What does their smile involve? Light. No more methane. No more grass.

Cows moo, and mean something far beyond time and space, far beyond identification with the flesh. Moo, they chant. Moo. A pleasant feeling moves through the chest. Cow spirits spread above, soft, the enigma of suffering, the enlargement of the pupils in soft dark loving eyes, which have no edges. You are inside them, below them, their eyes watch you, they moo.

The cow spirits floating outstretched, their ghost eyes large, the cows forgive their owners, their tormentors. The people who are mangling this earth. They are the true sacrifice of greater love. They give their stomachs for Gorgonzola cheese. They know. But they forgive. They manifest peace. Living and dead, they love you, even as you eat them.


Dr. Gorgonzola is one of the few truly raw cheeses of her kind at an array of certain points in time. She has seen many others of her flowing oneness turned into pasteurized zombies by the Pasteurization Police. The PP are vile creatures. They show up wearing uniforms of sterility and doom. They over-turn the unmade cheese, but not into raw milks of eternity. Onto the floor! They stomp and they yell because they don’t want so many healthy people in the land.

She shudders at how many cheese makers have been imprisoned for producing raw dairy. Dragged away in handcuffs.

The population of living cheese has nearly disappeared. The etheric realm has become denser, more opaque with its milky spirit pouring upwards into the sky of death. The cheese firms and hardens in the after-realms. It doesn’t know what else to do. Later it will melt and reunite when the cows die transcendent. They will become whole.

Dr. Gorgonzola re-experiences blue mold on bread that was once regularly powdered and spread on the cheese in ritual remembrance of the miraculous birth of Gorgonzola.

The raw cheese, hiding from the Pasteurization Police in the nervous enclaves of outcast cheese makers, lives life until it’s given up into the eater’s stomachs, the life force moving into the veins, the tubules, the villae, the lymph. It continues to live. As red blood cells. As nostril hair cells.

The Pasteurization Police take it and throw it in the fire, killing it, but keeping it in some zombie semblance of “alive.” Then, that’s eaten and goes into bodies with no receptors for what monster it’s become. It turns into mucus, balls of bile stuck in tubes, fat, bulging breasted estrogen, precocious breasts, tumors. Little girls with breasts and sideways looks.


What did you say? Dr. Gorgonzola’s memory is not what it once was. Damn aluminum foil wrapping.

Dr. Gorgonzola was distracted. Realizing she was pretty miffed at the number of times people confuse her with old shoes. She tells her lovers, “Pay attention to the subtle differences. Here, smell this, then smell me. See?” They have been known to pick her up and stick her on their feet.


Dr. Gorgonzola recites her history to herself to prepare for encountering the man coming to the farm, to the table where she lies, waiting in the sun.

Smelly herdsmen from the north “long ago” escorted their transcendent cows from the mountains in the autumn, presenting to them the outstretched vista of the plains around Milan. Blisters on their heals were sliding around on the un-level ground. The drizzle had proven annoying. Ready for night of shelter, the herdsmen stopped at Gorgonzola, Italy, and took off their boots. Their feet sighed, imprinting the ambiance of smell in the air.

The traveling herdsmen reached out their adorably neutral colored arms and gave the people who sheltered them milk from their cows. “Here,” they said. “Here is milk from our cows.” So much milk from cows with extra fat in it, all at once, what must they do? The locals of the town got to work right away in their suntanned ways, and made what became known as Stracchino cheese. Stracchino = tired. Poor tired cows coming over the mountains gave tired cheese.

And then! Halleluiah! A young tired cheese maker committed the Sacred Goof.

Leaving the curds to drain, he was thinking of the darker rim around the crystalline iris of a lady with a face like a diamond, a face like a pearl. If maybe you combined the two gems. He saw her pass by, her hair so short he could see the shape of her scalp so large, her chin so small. He knew he had to follow his inclination to risk everything to run to her right then, then. He left the half-made cheese behind, he did.

He chased her down, slapping the flour on his hands as he ran to dry them, flour flying around him along with blue mold. “Rosali! Rosali!” He called. “Stop walking!” He ran, his steps echoing on the brick street, against the stone houses on either side. Someone looked out of a window, rocking in a chair, back and forth. “I have to look in your eyes.”

She stopped so suddenly, and he was running so fast, they ran into each other. They fell against the wall, and he pushed her up against it. They made love in the alley, their skin glowing in the shadows. He was her first. She walked away in wonder, after they said goodbye, and realized they were both walking the same direction. Her step was wide, and bleeding, her eyes open, her linearity disfigured along the road.

He came up behind her, and she could feel the magnetics between them. She turned around, and he put his hand on her shoulder. “I’ll walk you home, okay?”

She wasn’t sure what the right answer was. What was she supposed to say? What would her parents think? The magnetics of attraction between them meant she could only say yes. She had no way of pulling herself apart from his stride.

When they reached her home, they kept walking, into the forest, and she lay facing him, across a thick downed tree. He lay face down across her, securing them onto the rounded surface by the grip of his hands, knees, and ankles.

The next day, he looked around behind him, eyes narrowed at one end, opened wider at the other. He wore the colorful costume of the period. He had curly hair. He was kind of good looking, actually. Kind of a nice nose, slightly bulbous on the end, but in a good way. Not like a big one, just small, pointed enough to make it graceful. Like a combination of an elf and a hobbit or something. With a wart near the end.

He looked both ways, his chin elastic enough to make the invisible eyes of the fucking nobody narrator wonder if he was trying to be funny or not. The narrator tries to be neutral. He sometimes gets caught up with the characters. He sometimes wants to be them.


Sometimes, the narrator wants to lick them. To bite them. Sometimes, he wants to look in their crystalline eyes. To look in their eyes, he does.

The nobody narrator doesn’t get the girls, never. Instead, of fucking-course, it’s the character who gets the girl, even though he’s just okay. I mean look at’im. Look at that neck.

Or better yet, look at the narrator. Nobody ever looks at him. Just because he’s invisible, quiet, everywhere, doesn’t mean you can’t look at him. Go on, it’s good for you!

Thank you. Just a moment. The narrator must cry.


So, the young cheese maker has got the girl, now, you see, and he doesn’t want to lose his job after all. He’s had his way with her, so now he’s not so ready to give it all up now, is he? No, he wants that job. He wants that money!

So, standing in the golden light of morning, his sleeves ragged around his tanned wrists, he pours out the half-done cheese into the vat of fatty milk from Lombardy cows; he doesn’t care how transcendent they are. He cares about the milky skin of his lady, now, doesn’t he? And not being caught by the man he works for throwing out mismanaged cheese. No, he wants to hide what he left out inside some new cheese, and maybe no one will know the difference. Testosterone is as much a part of the birthing as the bacteria, mold, and milk.

The cheese rests for three months in the holy ripening cave. The half-cheese’s bacteria unites with the new. The special trinity of molds united. The young man licks the mold, almost throwing it out in fear. Ah, ha! Much better than before! He meant to do that!

And that’s the nativity story of Gorgonzola cheese. Praise to the Madonna who walked past the tired cheese. Praise to abandoning work for love. To hiding your mistakes. Praise to incredibly mesmerizing eyes in an elvin face, with a tiny chin and a big head, hair barely there, pale. Unlike the other women, she was. It began with the cheese maker’s love so pure. The cheese he didn’t throw away, but saved, after it had suffered all night, was reborn, has never died. Not yet. Not yet.

Gorgonzola emanates from the original act of disobedience. Bearing the flag, the passion of religion, to lead the troops to truth.

The mold’s spores are caonidia, their yellow bits conidiophores.

Dr. Gorgonzola is really feeling that urge towards rebellion. She is getting over-heated, growing extra blue mold, about the claims that Gorgonzola is not where the miraculous birth occurred. But she isn’t sure what to do. She twists inside, curdles, grows runny.

She hates that cheese makers everywhere, and everythere, poke and pry and shake and blow, trying to imitate Gorgonzola Lombardy! But no!

Mold, that stinky, notorious, plump, tight mold, rounded, bulbousness. When Gorgonzola, Italy could no longer sustain its tradition, other towns nearly started making the cheese. Like the one she’s in. But they have never pretended to own the history of it. Absurd!

And the cheese is already mourning about its distance from the place of its divine birth. That no cheese is made in Gorgonzola any more! It’s now a place for wage slaves to sleep in beds that smell of cheese. Of bacteria and mold. And sweat, lots of wet. Breakfast and a wank, showering off stink.

Wage slaves go to Milan to get a little fashion, a little pizza, a little skinny girl who walks with her mouth open, her tongue bobbing.


They say the town of Gorgonzola was designed by the great master, Da Vinci.

The magic of that alone permeates Dr. Gorgonzola’s pores and air tunnels. She is awash at times with the brilliance of his mind, forming its pathways into the fissures and veins in the rocks of the two, the nicks of his mind upon the map of their dreams. What would Da Vinci do?

Dr. Gorgonzola is overcome by the intensity of the mold growing through her tunnels of her body, the rushing of it out from the center, growing slightly, oh so slightly warmer. She is not only milk, but in fact, she is the mold, she is the bacteria. They speak through her, as her, within her, separately and as one. She doesn’t have to go anywhere to experience love.

She has never yet been cooked and so she still has her hormones, her desires, her ability to bear young. She could make yogurt if she wanted to, raw yogurt, to cure the world. She could cure the world. She moans. The cows are transcendent. The grass is incredibly green. She is growing more red around the outside crust. The mold pushes through her tunnels. She explodes into orgasmic growing of the molds outward through her tunnels, her tunnels, her tunnels.

She’s become very attached to the GlauCum mold. The spore is so pungent, so potent, a type of mold unlike other molds, special, strong, green. No, blue. Or maybe more gray. Very attractive, though. Forceful.

Artificial injections she gets of it, in the more recent parts of her eternally present reality. She has a strained relationship with the mold at this point in the continuum. It’s hard for her to develop feelings as deeply as she used to. She misses the way it felt so real before, so passionate, in the distant, more romantic past, when the GlauCum mold made the first move. She knew it wanted her batches back then, or it wouldn’t have penetrated her. She isn’t feeling the same sense of well-being now that it is done mechanically. Even if it is more exciting.

After she is poked so sharply, and inseminated with the mold, she thinks about it for a month, nothing else to do, other than to anticipate how she’ll then be pierced with copper long needles to make the air queef through her. The mold makes its home in her tunnels, her tunnels.

They live all inside a foil house together for about half a year, and they get crusty together, really comfortable. They get fat. They swirl around in their own creaminess together. They go au natural. They get soft and hard. They get smellier. The best word there is, like a mother’s bottom.

The bits of the mold that eat, the hyphae, are strikingly beautiful, if you are them.


This cheese is protected by a Consortium stamp that proves it’s made in the Piedmont and Lombard regions. It has enthusiastic champions: the Consortium for the protection of Gorgonzola Cheese.

But it can still be eaten by TEETH. Risotto, polenta, pasta, penne, pizza. TEETH must be accepted as a part of life, a part of death. But lying TEETH are not the same. Not the same at all.

And now Gorgonzola fake cheeses are popping up, trying to fool the public, as there’s not enough certified Gorgonzola cheese to go around. It’s too popular; it can’t keep up with the demand for the creamy center, mild and wet on their tongues with all those papillae, those digestive juices. The fruiting bodies of the mold slide into the waterfall of the mouth.

The fakes cheeses end in the horrible suffice ZOLA! Down with ZOLA!

Cheese makers are fighting over whether they can maybe go back to how cheese formed naturally in the beginning. Clashing over the proposal to not hurt the poor cheese with skewers any more. Be gentle to the cheese, and fold the mold and the cheese together. Going back to the practices of the origin’s time period.

Oh, how Dr. Gorgonzola wants that. She wants to relax, for all those around her to relax their emotional wounds from being skewered. But she wonders about the wisdom of joining in with the new retro? It’s not how her parents did it, or theirs before them, but far, back into the past, before all the innovations. She might lose her edge. No more whips, no more pellet guns and resounding flesh bouncing back under a navy blue suit coat flap. She is afraid of vulnerability. She is so yellow, so orange, so glowing. She doesn’t know if she’d look good in sepia. Dr. Gorgonzola has many concerns. But though she is troubled, she is still a strong female.


The rennet, the poor rennet. Poor transcendent cow stomachs ripped apart for TEETH. The cow spirits floating outstretched, their ghost eyes large, the cows forgive their owners.

Dr. Gorganzola talks to the dead cows. “Can we work together on this? Maybe if Gorgonzola could have a museum, or a celebration or something . . . People wouldn’t get away with changing history. We need more town pride.”

The cows normally prefer to smile than to get too involved.

They really don’t care, themselves, about the history of the cheese. But Dr. Gorgonzola’s passion has reached their astral ears. As Dr. Gorgonzola has individuated so strongly, the cows feel she has the potential to become something really special in the after-life. They can’t wait to meet her.

They form into a cloud over the head of the dairy certification board for the climax of the truth-war. They rain conceptual milk on him. They can do this, luckily, because they find him adorably cute, and small. Everywhere he goes, the rain of liquid propaganda remains above.

When he gets to the farm to certify their cheese, he is feeling more and more foggy, damp headed, mucus minded. He slogs around in his thoughts, and in the mud, and goes to the wrong door twice. He wants to take a nap. His goes into a trance in order to rest as much as he can while awake.

People have been telling him it’s like there is some sort of loving rain-cloud over him all the time with rays of sun pointing toward him, with some sort of silky whiteness, filling everyone with a sense of love and forgiveness. Like he’s the chosen one. A prophet of sorts.

At the dairy, the cows transcendent influence his random reaching for the hunk of cheese for the official taste test. They guide his hand to pick—Dr. Gorgonzola! She braves the TEETH, for the sake of them, and their tongue, speaking the truth. With every ounce of her spirit, in alignment with the spirit of the cows transcendent, she beseeches him with her living essence made of cow, bacteria, mold, the beauty of cows, the miraculous origin of love impulsively followed, and the mysteries of the ripening cave.

His tongue masticates, his cheeks smash, his throat impinges, and she goes down the slide of the hero.

“It’s important to stay true to the wisdom of original love,” the certification man announces. “The Madonna of Gorgonzola, the cheese maker’s muse, needs a shrine in the center of the town to honor her. And I swear on this cheese that I will make it happen. Consider this battle won.”


© Tantra Bensko


Tantra BenskoTantra Bensko, who has an MFA from the Iowa Writing Program, teaches fiction writing with UCLA X Writing Program, Writers College, and her own academy. Her latest book is a Slipstream novella, Equinox Mirror, from ELJ Publications, and her next is a Sci Fi novel, Unside, from Driven Press. She lives in Berkeley. lucidmembrane.weebly.com