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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January DAY, 2018.
About this Poem 
“Here, x the unknown [as in algebra], x that denotes the [porno]graphic, x that marks the treasure, replace the outlaw letters: G, I, R, L, and S. A heavy-handed use of the Oulipian form, the Beautiful Outlaw, to be sure. But I’d risk being heavy-handed when it comes to marking the various ways the desecration of women is built into everyday English language and thereby our lives—those double entendres we learn as children and take with us into adulthood. The poem also speaks to the numerous ways in which a woman standing up for herself relies on the labor and testimony of other women, as well as how the system guarantees her/their potential revictimization in our collective liberation. Finally, the poem reclaims the co-opted ‘me too’ movement and gives it back to those who most need to be heard.”
—Marwa Helal
 

Bring Back Our Girls

1. 	It bejins in Berlin
	
	A Historical Case
	Study 
	In Disappearance + Cultural Theft:
	Exhibit YZ:

	Brinj back to me Nefertiti 
      Her 
	Bust

Take her
From behind 
	the vitrine 
	
	For I know where to find her missinj eye
	
	Then put a woman in charje of all antiquities. 
	She-law: just because somethinj is beautiful 
	doesnt mean it was meant to be consumed; just because there are
 	tourists doesnt make it an attraction. 

2. 	everywhere anytxme atm her
	vxolatxon: guaranteed.  sxlence bought             or your settlement
 	money back. objectxfactxon xn the mxrror xs closer than xt appears.
	please mxnd the wage gap. cautxon: not chxld resxstant to open hold 	
	down 	and turn away squee geez use daxly, mornxng, and nxght
 	supported by an aroma of certified organxc heavens:

	for every gxrl who grows 
	xnto a woman
	who knows
	the best threat’s: 
	one she never 
	has to make
	
	she sublxmates your sublxmxnal
	even your affectxon has been xnfected


3. this poem cant go on without hex i mean 
	hex 
	heeee x
	hex
hex and hex
		hex 		hej heq hez hex

she was stolen bought sold lost put undex buxied alive at bixth she was dxagged in blue bxa duxing a xevolution with vixginity tests she waits then she doesnt she sh sh sh shh she left you she the best thing that happened to you then she lilililililiiii she intifada she moves with two kinds of gxace she ups the ante aging by candid defiant elegance she foxgets but nevex foxgives 

She-language complex 
she complex she so complex she complex got complex complex

4. she spends her time anxious because she knows she is better than 
you rang to say she died from being tired of your everything she knows she is fiyne; gorgeous but she hates it when she infuriates and when she jigs and is kind she minds her own business except when she is new and nervous though she is origin previous and impervious she wont stay quiet she is razor sharp and super tired she undarks, vets, wanes, and xeroxes; yaks and zzzzs the day she dreams 

5. Me tooa B  Me toob Me tooc R  Me tood Me tooe I  Me toof N  Me toog G  

Me tooh                 them 

Me tooi B  Me tooj A  Me took C Me tool K  Mem too Men too Me tooo 

Meep 

too                 Meq too 

Mer too Me too Me too Meu too Mev too Mew too Mex too Mey too Mez too 

            Me     ((too)) Me                               ((((((((((((too))))))))))))

Copyright © 2018 by Marwa Helal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Marwa Helal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Marwa Helal

Marwa Helal

Marwa Helal is the author of Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019).