Rampant, I

The day after his wedding
There is talk of un-kiss, un-touch,                         un-graze,
And un-love.

There is un-fragrance (attar) in the tethered air, an un-
Raveling of hands (fingers), an undoing of skulls as in a blizzard.

My body as a letter
A defunct
Sign making-system, with snowy veins,
Inscrutable, inscrutable.

The red door of sycamore trees is closing, he says,
Like the stern voices of angels.

The febrile mind now colorless
Unhinged a little more,

Once Freud’s station of the uncanny—
A creature now in the middle
Of its forsaking, in the unlit earth of the storm.

Lorca, II

You are dead and I am living in the brazen
Sunlight of a day when the streets
Have been cleared of all the bones
The poets, and Shelley’s ghost has finally
Been vanquished from the Thames
And under trees there are no more birds
Without broken wings or life fatigue,
This pollution in the lungs. I went into the plum field
Looking for your body and incalculable caravans
Of people followed my shadow.

I went to the olive tree and it was scarred
From an axe
Blow given by a bulldozer
Operated by a child who doesn’t know what he is doing.

This is my prayer. The doors of the night
Have been eaten by termites. I am just beginning.


Rising from the Gulf of Spezia
I am the elbows of a dead man

In the pathetic Kingdom
Where I’ll stay from now on—
My country is teetering between limbless Empire
And a deep gash thoracic wound.

Come here—
Within this fortress of my misery
There is a wild honey jar for you, an abandoned temple
Of endless bewilderment.

The sky becomes a messenger
Of disease in a bird.
The sky drapes itself in the folds
Of the mourning cloth. Someone says

Hummingbirds corrode the mouth of India.
Anon. Anon.


Zeeshan Pathan attended Washington University in Saint Louis as an undergraduate where he studied poetry with acclaimed poets including Mary Jo Bang and Fatemeh Keshavarz. He speaks several languages and translates from Urdu, Turkish, & Persian. At Columbia University, he completed his graduate thesis in poetry under Lucie Brock-Broido, and worked with other talented poets & translators including former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand, Timothy Donnelly, and Susan Bernofsky, chair of the PEN Translation Committee in New York City. Zeeshan is interested in world literature and literary theory, the poetry of the Middle East and India, and he also writes short fiction. He has been invited to several prestigious writers’ conferences, including the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His manuscript The Minister of Disturbances has recently been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes.


As a poet, I am interested in consciousness and how language can give voice to a particular mind. I also write through tradition and am attracted equally to forms (such as the sonnet or ghazal). The inner music of words is very important in terms of how I construct my lines. Poems are like membrane and skin protecting one’s body. They give me a space to use metaphor and magical thinking to break out of a kind of ideational stasis. I feel a poem is true if it makes me halt suddenly, pay attention, and engage with language in a new way. In this manuscript, I have attempted to write about the changing social world and my own history as a poet born into the near end of the 20th century in America. I have taken permission from the work of other poets including those with whom I’ve studied such as Mary Jo Bang and the late Lucie Brock-Broido of Columbia University. Major poets like Lorca from Spanish or even the wonderous Emily Dickinson have often been my guides to what is real in poetry. The title The Minister of Disturbances works as both a unifying name for the larger collection of poems and gestures toward the themes inherent to my work & the different speakers that I have invented here to tell of such disturbance and ruptures.