The Black Letter “C” (by Hart4Ben)


Summary: Ben’s delirium leaves him haunted.

Word Count: 609   Rating: K+

Written for 2018 Better Later Than Never Challenge and the 2017 Challenge: Once Upon A Midnight Dreary


The Black Letter “C”

Fevered, weak, and sickly lay Ben Cartwright on that awful day.

A voice rang out; in desperation he looked about to see.

The haunting voice came taunting, in his mind relentlessly taunting,

A sanity daunting taunting of things past and things to be,

Taunting, taunting no escape from suffering, death, and calamity.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


Conjured memories of dear Elizabeth, his ears pounded with her final breath.

The pall of death was all he could see.

Grief came crashing, like ocean waves crashing,

Fear and dread came crashing like a savage sea.

Crashing, crashing, his hopes and dreams dashing, dreams that would never be.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


Sweet Inger appeared next in his delirious vision; the voice scoffed at him in mad derision.

The arrow of death jolted him from his blessed reverie.

Grief came rolling, like a wagon wheel rolling,

Rolling his soul to dust as someday it would be.

Rolling, rolling, life keeps rolling, though his burdens great and heavy they be.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


His stunning wife, just wed anew, Ben gasped, the future now coming into his view.

The voice shrieked in pain, a thrashing steed he did see.

Grief came upon him crushing, like a millstone crushing,

His soul crushing though sons he had three.

Crushing, crushing, his soul crushing, despite owning the Ponderosa — Pine Tree.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


“Love for your son, your very first born, will leave your heart rent and sorely torn.

He wants not your empire!” The voice shouted with glee.

A heart destined for wandering, unsettled and wandering,

Perpetually wandering over the land and sea.

Wandering, wandering, continually wandering, “The prince of your kingdom he never will be!”

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


“His mother’s heart will be his guiding light; serving others, not self, his defining plight.

Not even a pure heart will save him”, the voice cried with disdain, “You’ll see!”

A father in grief drowning, miserably drowning,

To the depths drowning in a black sea.

Drowning, drowning, in the abyss drowning, for no return shall there be.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


“His mother’s fiery spirit will become his fine art, and still he will be the delight of your heart.

His beloved wife and child”, the voice cackled shrill, “will suffer the same fate as your wives three.”

In grief his life burning,  FOREVER burning,

With pain and vengeance burning, his heart will be.

Burning, burning, your heart will be churning, to watch your child suffer, suffer like thee.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


Then awaking with beaded brow and quaking heart, Ben gave his family a frightful start.

His fevered stupor giving way to a clear mind and eyes that truly see.

His heart began rejoicing, gladly rejoicing,

With sweet rejoicing to be with Marie, Adam, Hoss, and Joseph was he.

Rejoicing, rejoicing, in relief rejoicing, the voice now silent and the fateful mark nowhere to see.

The mark of the Cartwright curse —  a black letter “C”.


But later in the dark of night, on the lamplit wall appeared a horrific sight.

And the voice returned with frenzied fury despite Ben’s begging and pitiful plea.

The haunting voice came taunting, filling his mind with relentless taunting,

A sanity daunting taunting of things that would most assuredly come to be.

Taunting, taunting, determined and vaunting, no escaping the suffering, death, and calamity.

The mark of the Cartwright curse — a black letter “C”.


20 thoughts on “The Black Letter “C” (by Hart4Ben)”

  1. The rhythm definitely reminiscent of a pounding heart that gets more agitated as the poem progresses, or that’s what I felt anyway. You cut to the heart of each loss and brilliantly outlined each in its own stanza. Very well done!

  2. So well done, Hart, it is wonderful to see more of your work!! This piece was so typical of you as it was so well-written, formed and put forth, the sentiment was something that I had never thought of before and I was left feeling satisfied somehow, even though it was sad. Sadness is a good emotion to feel at times and I enjoyed the experience this time. Good job and I hope all is well with you!!

    1. I truly appreciate your kind words, Kitty. I’m so glad to know this piece resonated with you. I’m well and hope you are too!

  3. Wow! I couldn’t manage to come up with anything for this challenge and you did a brilliant job of it. That was wonderfully done and truly sad.

    1. Thanks so much! I have no stamina to write a dark tale of any length; so I reread The Raven.
      To me the cumulative tragedy of the series was sufficient and I didn’t need to go looking for more.
      I wrote the stanzas as thoughts initially and then went back and reworked adding the rhyming scheme.
      Actually went together more quickly than I thought it might.

  4. Amazing how well his whole family fit into such a daunting vision…

    Very well done, with the flow and sway of the words. Thanks for writing!

    1. Yes unfortunately there was plenty of tragedy to go around making a piece like this possible. Thanks for your kind words!

  5. The repetitive nature of this tale left me pitching like a sailor on the rolling seas.

    Up one side and down the other; down right creepy, if you ask what of these.

    I’ll be glad to wake from this midnight dreary.

  6. Chilling and graphic, the rhymes drill the truth into his soul (and ours). Oh to be able to stop the voice and the mark….. Another terrific offering, well done.

  7. The repetitive use of words was like the drums of a death march or the pounding and pounding of his heart and so effective because the deeper into the poem I went, the more the rhythm caught at me and wouldn’t let me go. Wow, you do have a talent for verse.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments. It is gratifying to know that the intent came across regardless or how it felt to me at times.

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