MartĂ­n Getsemany, I See You

Author’s Note: This poem was inspired by Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hammer’s 2015 art exhibition, “Level of Confidence,” which uses facial recognition algorithms, computer, screen, and webcam, and compares the viewer to the faces of the 43 missing students. More info about Lozano-Hammer’s work can be found here. The italicized line in the poem is from Terrence Des Pres’s The Survivor.

Photo by Cyrus Cassells

MartĂ­n Getsemany, I See You

43 teachers-in-training shunted, eliminated
En route to a rousing march in the capital—

Dauntless Rafael dares me to absorb
His exhibit of all 43 determined faces—believers,

Protestors from the Ayotzinapa Normal School,
So, on the still stinging 5th anniversary of their assassination,

I bring my intent, assessing face
To this underworld sacrilege and roaring,

While Rafael’s facial recognition camera
Details my deciphering eyes

And tallied flesh and bone
(How do I breathe with this sudden hush

And surge of quicklime in my chest?)
To discover, with “a level of confidence,”

A match for one of the lost young men:
Martín Getsemany Sánchez García,

You’re back from smithereens,
From “burned beyond recognition,”

Promiscuous poppies and cartels,
Day-by-day carrion and cartels,

Throttled strikers, and contesting gangs,
With Christ’s betrayal and plaintive garden

Built right into your compelling name,
With all your young man’s ardor and braggadocio—like cologne,

Your uprising beauty and insurgent’s wings,
Your deep-set hunger for justice,

To haunt me, Martín Getsemany—you will die and live
Under the name of someone

Who has actually died—to nudge
The insensate autumn day

With lime-gloved hands:
You know I dare not look away—

A 2019 Guggenheim fellow, Cyrus Cassells has won the National Poetry Series, a Lambda Literary Award, a Lannan Literary Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award. His sixth volume, The Gospel according to Wild Indigo, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award and the Balcones Prize. Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas, translated from the Catalan, appeared in 2019. His twin 7th and 8th books, The World That the Shooter Left Us and Is There Room For Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? (a finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series) are forthcoming from Four Way Books. His first ever chapbook, More Than Watchmen at Daybreak, a sequence about his stay in a Benedictine monastery, was released from Nine Mile Books in April 2020.