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In his poem “The Wasteland”, T.S. Eliot famously declared that “April is the cruelest month.” But is it? I’d have thought February. Today I challenge you to write a poem in which you explore what you think is the cruelest month, and why. Perhaps it’s September, because kids have to go back to school. Or January, because the holidays are over and now you’re up to your neck in snow. Or maybe it’s a month most people wouldn’t think of (like April), but which you think of because of something that’s happened in your life. Happy (or, if not happy, not-too-cruel) writing!

Which month to choose?  I initially jumped to November, because it’s a forgotten month; the year gathers pace towards the end and people are so  busy anticipating Christmas that it gets forgotten.  But it’s not cruel, and you can still enjoy the autumn colours in the first half.  January can be harsh, but it holds the promise of a new year ahead.  In the end I settled on March.  This is why:

Mad March

March you are fickle:
with your brisk name
you push us forward,
one
great
leap
towards the point
of equal day and night,
the lure of warmth,
the end to darkness.
You paint in yellow,
wake us with birdsong,
tease us with T-shirt days
in sheltered gardens;
and then you take us
back
to
winter.
You sting and bite,
bury crocuses in snow,
and whip up bitter winds,
laughing as we reach
for scarves and hats
to watch daffodils dance
in the hail.

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