Skittles with planets 

An amethyst, he said

slamming down

the prayer beads.

talking above

the nauseous fumes

of camphor and incense

he drew skewed circles

intersecting subsets –

seventeen of them

jotting numbers on a paper

that presumably charted

the rebel trajectory

of all the wayward moons

and wastrel stars

that had driven me

to my fate thus far

the amethyst, he repeated

meditative, protective, calming

the countermeasure

to set right

all my woes.

I scraped together

three months worth of pay

got a pendant fashioned

from the choicest quartz

the size of a grape


with an inscrutable heart

of the darkest purple.

threaded on silver

around my neck

it huddled grudgingly

in the warm crease

of my moist cleavage

proud, patrician

resenting the ignoble droplets

of stale sweat

and city grime

that sat beside it

on my streaked skin.

I stepped out

with my new armor

to play skittles

with the offending planets

and watched the days

tumble as ever

in retrograde.

Graveyard Detour 

The sky is aqua

with jellyfish clouds

membranous shadows of cirrus

skimming stone monoliths.

tracing loops through gum trees

magpies land on the lawns

a wizened woman

in a houndstooth scarf

lays chrysanthemums

on a secluded plot.

I’m not here

to visit a grave

I was passing by

when I saw the golden wattle

fluff arms

dusting yellow blooms.

I suddenly recall

a childhood story

about spirits

clawing up through the earth

bursting through the gravel

on moonless nights

seeking to hound

the living.

a ball of fear


in mother’s lap

through the blackhole

of clenched eyes

amorphous shapes

of bedsheet ghosts

with cartoon mouths

menace through the air.

father’s feathery voice

like a plume of incense

cuts through the nightmare

anchoring me

back to reality

baritone laugh saying

that the dead

were harmless

to always fear

the living instead.


It creeps upon me

this nihilism

in places

where I least expect it –

the froth of my cappuccino

in a bustling coffee shop

between the screaming tones

of a Led Zeppelin riff

in the space between

the last two pomegranates

in the Specials aisle.

in these terrifying moments

wrestled out of my body

respiration rasping

people around me

stand reduced

to eerie smudges


on the treadmills they run on –

breaths and bodies

reeking of marriages



I later read

that this

is a panic attack.

I once met a great optimist

who said

that he hoped to live

till a hundred and twenty

I rolled my eyes and said

that after forty

life glitched

a broken record

looping the same menu

of events

hurtling towards

an inevitable end

with all that went before it

utterly purposeless

why even the sun

would end up

a burnt out match stick one day.

the optimist never called back.

lying now in the white throat

of an MRI machine

I think of all the time

I squandered

ruminating about codswallop

when my neck and spine

had worked just fine.

it’s a toss up

between spondylosis

and multiple sclerosis.

strangely I feel no panic

or pessimism.

the technician

brings earphones

and asks

what I would like to listen to

Led Zeppelin I say

the MRI machine swallows me


and noisily

to the strains

of I’m a Fool in the Rain.

Coolness Revisited 

One summer morning

fresh into my twenties

I took a razor to my hair

shaving my head

to a glistening dome

a kind of a middle finger

to the world

not that the world

noticed or cared

but I was on

my own retrograde path

to proclaiming

that I would not be singed

by the scathing judgements

of the brigade of line-toers

raining down on me.


I found that photo again –

me in my volatile avatar

as sweet child of anarchy

ears pierced

like Christmas ornaments


with a personality

like a Molotov cocktail

and adjusting my glasses now

fresh into my forties

beamed with pride

as my children squealed

that mother used to be

so utterly badass

my Instagram cool quotient

going up by sixteen –

the teens who saw

that photo on stories.



Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet and pianist. She holds a Masters in English. Oormila has exhibited her art and accompanying poetry in Kuwait, India, Singapore, and Australia. She is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and Authora Australis. Her recent works have been published in Red Eft Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Poets Resist, Eunoia Review, Rue Scribe, The Maier Museum of Arts Journal of Ekphrastic Poetry, and several other literary journals in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Oormila regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney. Her Instagram is

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