"The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos" by Reyes Ramirez

The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos
Trans. By Tomas Cienfuegos de la Paz














La botella is sacred, full of alcohol & sue‎ños.
All botellas are best kept cold so that the alcohol & sue‎ños are not hot like freshly piled organs.
Remove the cap. Dispose of it as you would a seed.
Drink la botella’s contents like one would consume the cure, you, you lost perro. 
Your face will swell with redness, proof you are still alive. 
La botella is sacred, unlike you, a vessel of blood & questions.
La botella is most sacred when emptied by your swallows as desperate as a baby’s first breath.
When la botella is empty, look through the top as you would look up to the surface of the ocean as you drown.
La botella is sacred, the conduit of your deliverance, en el nombre del Muerte y del Espiritu Sombrado.
Bursting love takes years; la botella is cheap.
You are not built for love, only renewal. 
There are as many botellas as there are bones resting under the earth’s skin.
Consume enough botellas to fill every vein of your every thought.
If you consume too much of la botella, your insides will spill out & hit the ground with the sound of an applause.
La botella is sacred & through its contents of alcohol & sue‎ños you will not feel the tightening grasp of eternity around your melting heart.
There will be better men than you in: looks, money, personality, strength, loving, courage, affection, body, soul, mind, humor, anger, & it will not be fair. 
Every defeat you must face alone. 
Everything will hurt; there is no great love.
La botella’s contents of alcohol & sue‎ños will romance these truths into the bed of clemency.
La botella is sacred; the opposite of death is sex.
Love the body imperfect.
Love the body which welcomes your pitiful embrace. 
Sex is the unity of two bodies imperfect, lustrous with passion, the warmth of breathing swirling in the air like a dying fire, the salt of your two earths resting on the tongue of the other. 
La botella is sacred but family & friends make the best enemies.
Pass la botella onto your offspring so that they too will know these truths.
When your children discover the source of your misery, forget them. Cast them into the ocean of their desire. 
They will not forgive you. La botella will help you forget.
Do not attempt to love them. You cannot ruin what you understand.
To remember is to live in the past; the past lives to kill the present.
La botella is sacred & can never die. This is not your fault. 
A body dead & a body sleeping leave the same mark upon the earth. 
Perhaps they will find your bones & know who won. 
La botella is sacred & your body will never nourish the earth.



Tell us about "The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos."

"The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos" is a religious text written in Spanish by Carlos Cienfuegos and translated into (mostly) English by his son, Tomas Cienfuegos de la Paz. Director Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that he felt it is unfair that ancient literature was the only art form allowed to be religious and therefore, believed on a deeper level than other art forms; every film he makes, then, is an attempt at creating a religious experience for contemporary audiences, new canons to be accepted as a valid foundation for the human condition. This piece is in that spirit with alcohol being an access to the divine/profane; in addition, inheritance as an act of translation and whether or not you leave certain passages behind or accept them. 

What informs your decision to write a piece as poetry versus prose?

My decision to write a piece as poetry versus prose versus essay versus screenplay versus comic book versus lyrics versus religious texts varies as much as choosing red wine versus beer versus gin versus tequila shots, or kissing someone on their cheek versus their lips versus their shoulder. Just whatever feels right at the time.

How do you interpret the concept of identity?

Every work of art is a work of identity because it is created by a human being that has to live by a simple rule: wherever you go, there you are. I navigate identity as the son of immigrants living in a country that routinely discards the narratives of its wanderers: youth, homeless, criminals, veterans, etc. What, then, is home? Familiar? Love? Safety? Who deserves which and who does not? Do I? Why? 

Talk about your work as an educator.

As an educator, I try to be the kind that teaches: history class is an illusion, anger is a gift, and that art can save us all. You can see the results here.


Reyes Ramirez is a Houstonian, educator, and writer. In addition to having an MFA in Fiction, Reyes received the 2014 riverSedge Poetry Prize, the 2012 Sylvan Karchmer Fiction Prize, and has poems, stories, essays, and reviews in (and/or forthcoming): Gulf Coast, The Acentos Review, Cimarron Review, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature, Front Porch Journal, the anthology pariahs: writing from outside the margins from SFASU Press, and elsewhere. He also: works with several non-profits; serves on the Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee; teaches & coordinates creative writing workshops with Barrio Writers, Writers in the Schools, and the Art Institute of Houston; and copy edits for Arte Público Press.

Posted on December 5, 2016 .