“Bloody, but Unbowed”

“Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

I’m sure everyone can recall where they were and what they were doing when we heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  I was at work – looking forward to a nice late afternoon sunning on my deck – with a glass of white wine – upon my return home from said work.  All that changed shortly after 2:50 pm last  Monday – when the evil that crept into the hearts of two handsome young men came to fruition in a matter of seconds. Seconds that I believe changed the world yet again.   Seconds that are etched in our minds as the smell of smoke, the metallic smell of all the blood, the screams of the wounded, and the cries of the bewildered and the bereaved drifted across Boston and the horrific sights and sounds filled our television screens across the planet.

My best friend, a paramedic,  has volunteered at the Marathon for many years – and was stationed a mere few miles from the finish line.  A high school friend, now an MBTA K-9 Police Officer – and whose brother was my first serious boyfriend, was shot at by the younger Tsarnaev before he was taken into custody. Not to mention that Boston is OUR city.  Oh, us folk from Western MA piss and moan about Boston – but Boston is quintessential Massachusetts and for all intents and purposes the start  -and HEART – of our Nation.  Boston is , after all,  where we began. An attack there hits close to home whether you live in the Berkshires or the Sierra Nevadas.

I’ve been running the gamut emotion-wise.  To say I’ve been struggling would be an understatement. Profound Sadness and Grief, Shock and Horror,  Indignation, Anger, Pride in our First Responders – who ran towards the danger and got everyone to hospitals and the best medical care in the world – within 20 minutes. I swing back to indignation and anger frequently, as news of the bombers’ lives becomes public. These young men come from a family who came to America as political refugees – seeking and being granted asylum. Receiving welfare benefits from the state as many immigrant families do when they first arrive.  They attended the best schools in the Boston Metro Area, and the younger son even received a scholarship to attend UMass Dartmouth from the city of Cambridge. We took them in, gave them shelter – got them on their feet, provided OPPORTUNITY.  I guess I feel much like George Washington must’ve felt after Benedict Arnold defected to the Brits during the Revolutionary War.  After all we did for you, all the opportunities you were given here – THIS is how we are repaid?  With death and carnage?  You absolute BASTARDS… HOW DARE YOU? And on a day meant to represent the best in us.  At the finish line of the oldest marathon in the world. The anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson took the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time and showed us all what can be achieved when we are inclusive and caring towards one another.

I think of the young family the older Tsarnaev son left behind. The toddler daughter, the wife who worked 70-80 hours a week while her unemployed husband made bombs and planned destruction. How will they live, being branded with their father/husband’s heinous actions?  I think of the unimaginable pain and suffering the other victims and their families are going through. Because Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s family are victims too. I cry.  Then I get angry again.

And the one place I can’t seem to get to is Forgiveness.  Perhaps it is still too raw, too soon,  to forgive.  Maybe someday, when the stories of triumph, rebuilding, and success have come to be. When the blackness has been replaced by the light, and the tender hands of time have begun to heal us. We’re still wiping off the blood, but… Maybe. Someday.  I almost feel like I am going through stages like the grieving process. Back and forth, up and down. Frankly I’m not all that interested in the “why” of all this.  Religious differences have probably been responsible for more death and destruction on this earth than just about anything else except maybe the Plague. That’s the way it was, and is – unfortunately.  Someone is always gonna be pissed off that we have it better than them, or we’re somehow taking something from them. It’s an ancient tune with a predictable melody. So I know what I need to know for now.  That forgiveness thing though, is still eluding me.  But, one thing I do know is that NO ONE is going to keep us down.  We are not going to let darkness and evil win – EVER. We are – and ever shall be…. UNCONQUERED.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley, 1875.




19 thoughts on ““Bloody, but Unbowed”

  1. Wow! This piece elicits all forms of emotions and responses, from the darkest, most self-serving responses of our corrupt politicians to the high standards and great sacrifices of those who, instead of running for cover, ran to help and save the victims.

    Unlike the politicians looking to put their face out there, to collect a sound byte on how tough they are on crime, I never believed this was any form of a “Terrorist plot.” We throw that word around way too much these days, and use it as cover to take away even more of our freedom and liberty.

    After a 40+ year absence, I still hold an affinity for Boston and all it stands for. Always will. And to watch those explosions at the finish of the race was painful and disheartening, to say the least. I lived and worked my last years in Mass. in Hopkinton, the starting line for the marathon. I also fondly remembered our state holiday, Patriots Day, a unique Mass. only day off.

    As to the perpetrators, They are nothing more than misguided criminals, in the way of the Unabomber or Timothy McVeigh. The survivor should be treated as such. Not as a militant attacker, not as a terrorists, but as a common criminal, given all the rights of a constitutionally driven trial. A military trial, as some of our more extreme politicians are driving for, is not the right thing to do. It would just prove once again how the Bush doctrine of “We’re taking away your freedoms in order to support freedom” continues to win out. We need to prove that no matter the cruelty of the crime, that we still stand for our country, our rights, and our order of law. Anything less, and the terrorists have won.

    So, I guess I’m saying that your piece drove me to address my thoughts, perhaps not in the clearest of manner, but at least get them out there.

    Thanks for the motivation.

    • Some more thoughts. I do in fact believe they are terrorists, as are the Unabomber and McVeigh. Terrorists are misguided criminals too. No the attacker is not military and is in fact a citizen, so I agree we must afford him the benefits of “a fair trial, followed by a first class hangin.” (Silverado) We can’t afford with this one to play it anything less than above board all the way. This one needs to be signed sealed and delivered. Because you’re right anything less and they win.

      • Its likely semantics, but I’m not clear where we draw the line between criminal and semantics. Our politicians are pushing that every criminal is a terrorists, therefor they don’t deserve, or have the right to civil liberties. This is what the NDAA that Obama supports calls for, suspend Haebus Corpus, unlimited arrests, no charges, no right to an attorney. Eventually, every prison will be like Guantanamo Bay. So, again, where do we draw the line?

        • Gotcha. If they’re an American citizen they are entitled to their rights and protections. If proven guilty then consequences. I don’t believe all criminals are terrorists. What’s the intent? Criminal act tied to a Political or religious statement? Terrorist. Instigating fear and panic in the gen pop via use of weapons of mass destruction? Terrorist. But yes. There has to be a clear line. Otherwise how can we tell who’s wearing the white hats; and who’s wearing the black ones.

          • Its too easy these days to call everything a terrorists event, just as the Pols were doing after the bomb blasts, just as some continue to do so today. There are those who still wish the trials to be by military tribunal, even though the alleged perp is a US Citizen.

            By your definition, were the killers at Virginia Tech, Aurora, and Newtown political acts thus terrorists, or just unhinged criminals.

            The line is blurring very quickly, and its too easy for those in power to direct the conversation. Remember, GW Bush made the famous statement, justifying wiretaps and spying without warrants, by saying he had to limit our freedoms in order to protect our freedom. Sounds like Animal Farm and 1984, all rolled into one.

          • No they were the psychotic acts of deranged people. Unhinged is a great word. But calculated acts such as OK City and Boston, Times Square , 9/11 etc – clearly terroristic. Discerning intent is crucial. As is determining sanity. Of course one could argue that anyone who murders is insane but we know that’s not always the case.

  2. Well said Donna. Love the title and tie in. The best result is happening. We get up, dust ourselves off and keep on going. My heart is out to those who have lost limbs and know they must keep on living. Their attitudes are inspiring.Take care and best wishes. BTG

  3. *Loved” the Invictus reference. Let me throw another literary gem into the mix:
    No Man Is An Island

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    John Donne

    Love you 🙂

  4. You will get through it but you shouldn’t have to. You remain in the prayers of our nation and I’m sure beyond. My city hosted a run for Boston on Monday hoping to get 200 participants and raise $2-3,000. They had 2400 show up and raised almost $40,000. There are so many people that care — thankfully because there is a lot of damage to repair in the hearts affected.

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