Bombay Riots, December, 1992

We stood by quietly as the mosque fell. Or was pulled.
The celebration turned riot and all the idols
lay decapitated at Nirmal Nagar. The elephant

god without an elephant head. Even without
the cold, we shivered. The buses around
us enshrined in flames. Who could tell

which temple was falling, and when? Of course,
we were in Jogeshwari when we found them.
The sickles. Iron rods flaking dark red chips

into the dirt. The Constable face-down
in the garbage. Seventy-two times
we intervened. Seventy-two times we killed

and were killed. Standing over us, the attackers
mocked. Where’s your army now, they said,
and we did not have an answer.  

This poem was one of the winners of the 2013 "Discovery" Poetry Contest.