First published by Ten Pages Press

Edited by : Giorgia Pavlidou

the performers are portals

with elaborate



some stone carvings, sudden,

towering, powerful,

like Aztec dancers,

all so beautiful it hurts.

one after another I see:

they are silent,


shown from a moving


some of the portals

are unpleasant.

it could be wrong

to go into some of them.

i see scenes inside and know they are bad.

some wear suggestions of heads

of animals, brilliant,

suspended in a spaceless

labyrinth abstract.

i run with a dog on a leash

through a space mysteriously

stable throughout the whole experience,

a place hard to see far in,

which always contains a soft

black spot, between buildings,

an arch, opening out beyond

into your psychic space.

as i run, i unbutton my shirt,

a dubious decision.

an agent is coming, looking for models

at a hotsprings and i must look seductive.

i find the owner of a building next to the hot springs

is a murderer.

in the labyrinth, the performers

are the doors, and the creatures

in the doors.

i am lost, trying to find the water.

and though i am running between

the buildings,

i am really always

in the same place.

the opening of the labyrinth

looms in the background.

a muscular black man

gives me a note that says

No President, No President, No President.

i start looking again to the absent space.

i go through a door into a gypsy room

with glittering clothes, exotic.

then, scene after scene

of the animal heads,

and i try to pick out

which one is


they are all parallel versions

of me. as if photos

spread out like a deck of cards.

me as all the people

the agent is considering as models.

if i can pick out and show him

which one is me, he can decide.

but i don’t regret

not knowing which is me, which mask

i wear.

i hold up a sign for you

to see if you are experiencing this

at the same time. the sign

is actually

a portal.

i go in it, by going away from it back towards myself holding it.

back toward myself holding it

i become two dimensional,


i encourage you to put on your

equipment that allows

you to see the 2D photo representations

as more 3D, so you can see

which one is me.

my friend shows up in a long black dress,

saying, you’re back.

we are in a labyrinthine dressing room

with lots of mirrors.

i leave through a mirror,

wanting to keep going

into the heart of it all,

through all the performers,

to the minotaur.

as i float through the mirror portal,

i think the core of it must be deep within


so i should be going back towards me.

so i turn inside out to look inside myself

for my destination.

i come to a scene of you


you are wearing an intensely

colorful costume

in an empty room

except for a tremendous mirror

behind you.

and you are surrounded

by altar icons, magical.

i go through the mirror portal

into you

as a royal magician.

what a huge thrashing around

that causes.

it feels good.

the mirror keeps throwing me out

and i have to start over and over.

i wonder

how i know who you are.

i see swirls

of a galaxy of raw energy.


is offered as the key word.

i am back in the labyrinth’s

dressing room,

trying on black panties and undershirt,


i enter your dream.

a buff man with short dark hair is there.

then, everything in my field of vision

is covered by red panties.

maybe a privacy thing

to keep me from your dream.

maybe you are dreaming

of sex. i’m sorry

if i am invading.

i don’t know how to get out

of the labyrinth

that is even in your dream.

it feels alive, pulsating

with potential, closed in,

yet with mysterious

dark openings, with sudden

rooms, mirrors, portals.

i can hear you talking to me

about how even though mirrors

are the way in, you don’t like

to visualize yourself.

i hold up a square, large metallic sign

facing you.

the message mirrored back to me

is how i have gone in one direction,

but also, i have split

and gone in another direction

at the same time.

because of my ambivalence,

opening my shirt,

and all the portals i went into.

the places of opening

to dark magic.

luckily, my ambivalence

led me to the good choice too,

where i created a portal

to bring the two futures

together safely,

rescuing myself.

in a labyrinth, we always make wrong choices

and go back and start over.

i begin to see the doors as mirrors,

then as those indian dresses

with tiny mirrors on them.

i know i can go through the mirrors.

the dresses are held up

by a master of illusion.

since he is there, i decide

not to go in that direction.

i try to go into a different

mirrored outfit,

but its owner changes her mind

about me and won’t let me go.

you are hard to visualize.

layered loosely in folds and jumbles

of invisibility, being a stranger to me,

reading this.

then, there is lightening

over a hillside.

there is a child there

who is afraid of everything,

wearing gold velvet brocade shoes.

i hear distant organ music.

you are there. my voice speaks to you

from the room, floating like narration.


Tantra Bensko is a manuscript editor. She teaches fiction writing online with UCLA Extension Writing Program, and Online Writing Academy. Included in her wide variety of courses are Experimental Fiction Writing and Embodied Writing. She published many authors — books through LucidPlay Publishing and shorter works in Exclusive Magazine, which is part of Experimental Writing resource website She has a few hundred creative writing pieces in magazines, and publishers put out chapbooks and collections. LucidPlay released four psychological suspense novels. The most common theme in her fiction is the heroism of exposing social engineering. She has always wanted to be Max Ernst and his wife. She is a walking Exquisite Corpse. Tantra lives in Berkeley near her son.

Tantra Bensko












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