Poetry from the front lines

Kareem Fahim reports from a rebel checkpoint outside of Tripoli:

The people fleeing Tripoli on Thursday said that several neighborhoods filled with the sound of gunfire every night. At checkpoints throughout the capital, they said, paramilitaries from the dreaded Peopleâs Guard carried long lists of wanted men. The gas lines were five days long.

The refugees say that Tripoliâs rebels defiantly paint their flags on anything that will spread their message, including pigeons, cats and balloons.

That's an image I'd have expected more from a China Mieville novel than from war reportage, but it's beautiful and perfect. The rebel flags attached to feral pigeons and cats and balloons captures the tenuous state of things, but also the hope and ingenuity of people seeking freedom.

Hope, they say, is the thing with wings. Or fleas. Or taut, fragile rubber shell, buffeted by the winds.

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