Laura Madeline Wiseman – Poetry

REFUSE TO SEE
        Lecture: Unclose the Door: Woman’s Suffrage
        House of Representatives, Thirteenth General Assembly of Iowa
        Des Moines, Iowa, January, 21, 1870

Men whose hands adjust
the center of their trousers,

or stay there at the button,
an invitation to what can’t be

said before wives and daughters.
The elderly men who nod off.

The open and slam
of doors by stragglers

who enter the room halfway
between the heckles

and the swing and shuffle
of feet. The nose pickers.

The clouds of coal smoke.
The cat urine stink of the unwashed.

The rotten teeth in the mouth
of those who jeer, hiss,

and call a lecturer out
of the art and rhythm of words.

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