All Art is Erotic

Kelli Rose Rien

“All art is erotic.”
—Gustav Klimt

Sinews and stretched skin.

Every piece of her coiled like a finger to god.

Enormity in the shape of a woman.

What is this

breathing and whirling

singing through me.

Don’t force and manhandle it.

Try on grace.

Playing the note long

bending it as it unfurls and curls

filling everything.

How big is Mu?

She’s on the stage, us and our dirty fingers all around her


aliveness might explode her.

I can meet her there.

Get out of the way—rip myself open, naked, electric.

She is more than a shape.

I am more than a machine.

Flesh and the living being

rib sharp

the storyless story of the body.

What it’s like to show up

and disrobe.

To learn to unlearn.

To see again.

She draws my body to draw her body

drawn like a bow

arrow plunged into our vanishing point.

The teacher in a low voice:

“Feel her body with your mark

Let her body move your mark

Let her body move your body

Feel her body with your body.”

The body.

Alive, awake, pointed.

A redwood in a lightning storm.

No body.

Charcoal, paper, the tooth, the edge, the flat, the point

the pushing into, the pulling out from,

blowing from the toes.

What it is to be the throbbing, blooming current.

What it is to be the thing and not the thing

the impulse and the response

the feeling and the felt

the curve of her ferocious collarbone and all the time and space collected in it.


I can spend my entire life arranging still lifes.

Positioning self to things, others.

Living in a world of objects and their relations

painted in familiarity

whitewashed in knowing.

Dead ideas projected on the walls of Mystery.

Reality will tear me apart

like a pack of wolves

in an instant.

Beauty is The Beast.

And so, and so, and so

I choose to choose to be a student

training to see the one who sees.

Above all else.

Leaving home.

Clearing an invitation inside myself

beyond myself

in the breath of space freed from both the hunger and the ghost

the teeming, spilling universe pours in.

Descending, open and vulnerable, to the wild grasses inside.

Ox prints.


Kelli Rose Rien was raised by horses and believes in lightning bolts. She married the immense, unquietable longing to wake up when the nagual Doen Roshi, her teacher and hero, administered her monk’s vows last year. How does someone be a true Zen Artist? That’s a question she’s poking at with more questions, paintbrushes, sweat, and incense sticks. She’s been a member of Lost Coin for not quite long enough to be a beginner yet; she leads the Artists & Scholars Group.