high 5-7-5

2020 was a mess in many ways, but some good came of it, no? One positive for me was that I stayed healthy enough to get out for runs around Sydney. I ran 100 times for a total of 702 miles (1,130km).

I found escape and comfort in various things, natural and manmade, remarkable and unremarkable. I captured some of these in Running Highku, this year with Japanese onomatope (onomatopoeia) worked into the 100 verses below.

If you don’t know the Japanese words included with verses, you can still gather (or imagine!) the meaning from feeling and context. If you’d like to know more, I’ve made a list of Japanese onomatope with definitions here

©︎ M.W. Shores, 2020.


Along Cooks River
Insects stir bun-bun sultry
Kookaburras laugh

Pelican on waves
Pushed along from behind—hyuu 
Galahs unruffled

Men sit on a boat
Not a word… pochapocha
The town awakens

Sandstone lapping up
Precious drops shito-shito 
Praying for much more

Fresh morning blowing
Smiles with strangers exchanging
Nikkori flashing

The hot dusty state
Quenched by benevolent clouds
Chapu-chapu run

It’s too hot for golf
And horses feel the damn same
Hi-hiiin bu-ru-ru

Seeing my shadow
Saaa’—shoaling smelt gone at once
Grey sky in ripples

Cheeky corellas
So smart, playful, destructive
Leaves zuta-boro


Super Bowl beer run
Pushu’ tapping the Rockies 
Brewed in Australia

From a quiet tree
Comes an unsettled kii-kii
Flying fox at night

Into large white sails
On calm harbor waters suuu
Gently pushed along

Stomach full of fish
Cormorant sleeps wings open
Guu-guu contented


Sunshine kerori 
Ground wet soft warming fertile
Feet saku-saku

Narrow path ahead
A fitting sign of the times?
Life aya-fuya

Strolling though the park
House plants green tsuya-tsuya
Social distancing

Cast iron covers
Could tell a few tales I bet
Jaran gattan chin

Parents, kids, friends, dogs
Warned to stay in but how now
So papparapaa


A six a.m. start
Construction gachi-gachi
Perfect day for Zoom

Be good to yourself
Smile and acknowledge others
Don’t be so tsun-tsun

Monday morning sun
Etchira-otchira stroll
Wise elderly smile

Cold cloud covered cove
Out from the charcoal green depths
A mullet—bashan

This riverside path
Daku-boku like tree bark
Roots and worms below

Did I change my clothes?
Indoors the whole weekend long
Oh blue sky run-run

San-san shining bright
Through leaves filtered yellow-green
Speckled asphalt warm

Lined up in Balmain
For what can’t be sacrificed
Uiin shaa proper joe

Follow winding streets
Taking in neighbors’ gardens
Fairywren chii-chii

Not straight is life’s path
But inguri-chinguri
Zigzags, turns, forks, boons

Sound running advice
Distance and dairy, not friends
Goro-goro buu

If you were the rain
There’d be no talk of parades
Dosha-dosha love


Eyes closed breathing in
Lemon vermillion amber
Leaves gasa-gasa

A fresh crisp morning
Warmed pokkari by the sun
Bridge in the harbor

Cleaned up the pantries
Rearranged the furniture

Shrouded sandstone walls
Migrant’s old quarry claim dark
Zoku-zoku chill

My swollen liver
Just how long can you take it
Wine gabu-gabu

Stretching out her arms
Through Sunday’s first rays of warm
Poki’ … earth’s old joints

Millions of gallons
Of crude oil doba-doba
Gone from Ballast Point

Though the years have passed
My shadow’s feet still chase me
Taka-taka young

Cautious pelicans
Eyes majira-majira
Why the long faces?

So camp this suburb
That one rather vanilla
Both have cats—nyaa-nya

Humans can be good
Near perfect from time to time
Copper wind sappari


“Put your jacket on!”
Cheeks fukura-fukura
A mum’s love priceless

If you saw me there
Would you send for the uu-uu?
What if I was Black?

Myriad bird calls
Shaking dew drops on cold grass
Dog tags charari

Life can be a mess
Shitty mess banbarako
So get cleaning then

Clouds swell gureri 
Rain plucks leaves from limbs still
Brocade stream in flames

Dogs waku-waku 
Oblivious to the fog
Sniffing morning butts

The rain fell this far
Just to say there would be sun
Uha-uha sheen

There I go again
Digging holes I can’t climb out
Oro-oro mess

Cats too can get stressed
But biting off their tails, no
Gaji-gaji… yowl


Like counting footsteps
Abacus pachi-pachi
Day stacked upon day

Breath buku-buku
Not a clue about COVID?
Swan’s head in water

The cold rain and grey
Inspired curry over rice
Gutsu-gutsu warm

Hold on my dear friend
Things will surely get better—
Holding you gyutto

Through the drowzy mist
Tomorrow the sun will rise
Cool warm silk shū-shū

Behind shiny leaves
And silent eyes golden fixed
Tail kune-kune

Where have I seen you?
I know those drained troubled eyes
Hushed odo-odo

Early morning dream—
Dash trot quick zip to-to-ton
Across the water

At the reservoir
Cormorants sit with wings up
Water still… geppu

Where are they off to
So bubbly wacha-wacha
Dog wanting to play

By pigeons startled
My trapezius strained stiff
Ita-ta… ends July


Beneath gazes warm
It moves dark heavy smart cold
Bay water non-non

They put me at ease
Your eyelids soft and peaceful
Hono-bono calm

Beads of light dancing
On leaves verdant frolicking
Jingling yurara

Jet fuel for my run
Last night’s pizza and gnocchi
Starch kerosene pyuun

Reeling ka-ririn
Man fishing under a bridge
Birds watch from above

Like shy hermit crabs
Cotton swabs go in sterile
Up tense nostrils su’


Wings bata-bata
Cockatoos flash sun rays white
Clinging to branches

Fleas, ticks eying dogs
Uzu-uzu on leashes
Watching children play

Eight and a half miles
To dip my feet in the bay
Botany hoi-hoi

Swaying in the breeze
Like they were choreographed
Leaves soyo-soyo


Trees offering shade
To woman and her trolley
Wheels gara-gara

Flowers, fruity drinks
Beautiful women and men
Then buun, mozzie bites

Peddling zun-zun
I rode Old Red across town
To jog with a friend

Slowly jog a block
Just like that—you’re a runner
Dawn ura-ura

Mauve Jacaranda
Caress grey skies sarari
Into fresh azure

Above rain wet grass
Swallows glide in fast ovals
Chubi-chubi play

Honey bees waltzing
Through blooms lavender fresh
Post-rain bun-cha-cha


Foraging the green
Cockatoos kusu-kusu
Laugh at old golfers

I run to relax
But think of nothing but polls
Sowa-sowa angst

A wave blue and fresh
Washes over malfeasance
Saba-saba clear


Those damn larakeets
Clamouring alarm clock beaks
Dove guzu-guzu

Grate Scott lily blue
You too washed away one day
Slurped zuru-zuru

Call for lost items
Shonbori sad without you
Will hold until 5

Treeal estate for rent
To cicada imago
No noisy min(min)ers

Thomas Holt just left
His rabbits when he pyon-pyon
Hopped back to England

Cool grass between toes
Breezy yururikan fair
Ibises grubbing

Garden ornaments
Sooth adults nade-nade
Plush toy substitutes

Silent mosaics
Recall their violent start
Tiles barin-barin

How bitter was this
Year of home runs hit gakin
Against our poor team

Flower petals wet
As a seductive pink tongue
Soft beron licking

On the riverbank
Insects swarm soyo-soyo
Magpie stands watching

We did a bit but
This mean year what’s it all worth?

Shan-shan jingle bells
Tinsel icicled storefronts
A quirky Christmas

Fuka-fuka soft
A blanket of downy clouds
Above Iron Cove

No people about
No ibises in the palms
Calm, akkerakan

Though this year made us
Toil enyara-enyara
Our gardens still grow

Magpie larks in grass
Slow steps jiwa-jiwa step
Sing us your duet

Fly into next year
Don’t plod in rori-rori
Press on, be strong, love

You can read my 2019 verses here.

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