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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017

Johannes S. H. Bjerg
Højby, Denmark

Is Sunrise the Right Word for It??
-a haibun play-

[EK and BÖK sit in the doorway of their broken-down fridge thrown in a building site in a city. The site looks like it has been left on its own for a long time and garbage from the neighbourhood has built up. EK is massaging his left hand.]

BÖK: ”Anything wrong with the hand?”

EK: ”It’s sore. Like I’ve been in a fight.”

BÖK: ”Well, have you?”

EK: ”Me? No, I just woke up and it was like that.”

BÖK: ”Sure you weren’t in a fight?”

EK: ”I have never been in a fight. Not as a grown man. You know me, I wouldn’t pick a fight with anyone.”

BÖK: ”Perhaps someone picked a fight with you?”

EK: ”No, not that I recall, and knowing me I’d probably just run away.”

BÖK: ”Did you dream anything?”

EK: ”Yes, but it wasn’t about me fighting. I was a world-famous tenor singing at La Scala.”

BÖK: “Was it good?”

EK: “Mh. Not really. I’m basically more of a baritone.”

BÖK [Excited, face lightning up]: “Ah, so you’re him?!”

EK: “I’m who?”

BÖK: “Barry Tone!”

EK: “Who’s Barry Tone?”

BÖK: “Barry Tone, the famous hip-hopper!”

EK: “I’m neither hip nor do I hop. I’m not a kangaroo.”

BÖK: “Sure you’re him! I knew it!”

EK: “No, I’m not. Baritone isn’t a person, it’s a kind of a level of voice, like bass, alto, mezzo soprano...”

BÖK: “No, you wouldn’t wanna do that.”

EK: “Do what?”

BÖK: “Mess with the Sopranos.”

EK: “They’re fictional. They can’t hurt you.”

BÖK: “But in dreams they might.”

EK: “That’s true.”

unwillingly adopting Satie’s MO
a duo plays
for the furniture only

[Lights go off and on again, like testing a switch.]

BÖK: “Good morning.”

EK: “Morning.”

BÖK: “How’s the hand?”

EK: “What hand?”

BÖK: “That one.” (Points) “Yesterday it hurt.”

EK: “Yesterday? Did we speak yesterday?”

BÖK: “Yes, we certainly did.”

EK: “Where?”

BÖK: “Here.”

EK: “Ah.” (looks around to see where he is) “In this place?”

BÖK: “The very same.”

EK: “And my hand hurt?”

BÖK: “Yes, like you had been in a fight.”

EK: “But I don’t fight.”

BÖK: “Exactly.”

EK: “Precisely. Precisely what?”

BÖK: “You said you are not a fighting man or something to that effect and it must have been a dream.”

EK: “I don’t dream either. It’s totally dark when I sleep. I’ve looked.”

BÖK: “You said you were singing, like a baritone, I seem to recall.”

EK: “Who’s Barry Tone?”

BÖK: “You don’t recall? He’s not a kangaroo, I can tell you.”

EK: “Who is anyway, these days?”

BÖK: “That’s what I said.”

EK: “I’ll second that.”

BÖK: “And I.”

EK: “Hear, hear.”

BÖK: “What?”

EK: “What what?”

BÖK: “Hear what?”

EK: “Forget it. There’s nothing to hear except for that.” [Points to the sunrise.]

BÖK: “Ah, there’s another one.”

EK: “Another what?”

BÖK: “Another sunrise.”

EK: “Sunrise is an unword.”

BÖK: “What do you mean?”

BÖK: “The sun doesn’t rise, it’s the Earth that moves so that our place on it turns into the light of the sun.”

EK: “Wow!”

BÖK: “Yes, wow!”

flipping or flapping its wings
—really too fast to see—
a bird disappears

BÖK: “Sunset and sunrise are pre-Copernican words. From a time when we didn’t know better.”

EK: “Do we know better now?”

BÖK: “Sure we do.”

EK: “What do we know?”

BÖK: “That the Earth revolves around the sun.”

EK: “I feel dizzy.”

BÖK: “The true word for sunrise should be: our-place-on-Earth-begins-to-turn-into-the-light-of-the-Sun.”

EK: “Mh. I like sunrise better. It’s easier.”

BÖK: “Much easier.”

EK: “We’ll stick to that then.”

BÖK: “We’ll stick to that.”

struggling with my second nature:

[EK and BÖK get ready for their midday nap, cleaning each their fridge and putting in some well-worn blankets.]

EK [Halting his movements, pensive]: “Then, what would be the right word for sunset?”

[Lights out]

Ek, Bök = oak, beech in Swedish. Names picked for no reason at all.



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