Pankaj Khemka
March 2021

Pankaj Khemka is a practicing physician who often turns to poetry to express the everyday triumphs and tragedies of the human condition.  His most recent work is forthcoming Star*Line.  He lives in Orange, California, with Floyd the Ficus.



Write me a love poem.


Read it to me in the high desert, 

beneath a shower of shooting stars.


Tell me how you yearn 

to breathe music into my woodwind,


paint your name across my chest 

with your lipstick,


press champagne grapes to my lips 

with the tips of your trembling fingers, 


drizzle the delicate nectar of your passion 

fruit onto my parched tongue,


give me a black velvet box,

fill it with sweet nothings,


build us a castle from the bones 

of our ancestors, their skulls staring down at us 


in silent awe, 

from the tallest spires of our fortress.


Wipe away my tears 

with the hem of that red dress, 


the one you dropped 

on my bedroom floor.




Riding-Hood smiles, remembering 

how she used to sit on Grandma's lap 

while Grandma read her fairytales.  


But, ever since Grandpa passed, 

Grandma's mind's been disappearing.

Now, because Grandma needs 


to be with Grandpa,

Riding-Hood places a revolver

in her wicker basket,


a bottle of sherry for after, 

dresses all in red 

in case of splatters.


Tears blur her path

through the wintery woods, 

but when she gets to Grandma's house


she sees Grandma's tattered 

flannel nightgown on the porch,

bloody paw prints in the snow.