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Poems From the Porch 38

John is a freelance writer, ghost-writer, storyteller, and poet. He always tries to include a message or social commentary in his writing

Still Going Strong

Just when you thought there'd be no Poems From the Porch this week, here it is! Fooled ya' didn't I? I am a little late due to a number of reasons. Primarily that life has been rather busy lately.

We are now free to travel within the state to I have taken the opportunity to visit another of my sons this week. Secondly, work is constantly increasing, leaving me less time to write here at HubPages, and thirdly a couple of the poetry requests were just downright difficult.

Instead of stressing and procrastinating over the "challenging" prompts, I pushed them a little further down the list and included ones here I was more comfortable writing. My apologies to Kyler, but I promise to attempt "The Relationship Between the Many Layered Onion and the Many-facetted Tesseract" next week. Also, Greg, I wrote one of your requests but not the other about 'Men at Work." I will explain that further down.

Anyway, welcome to another edition of Poems From the Porch. This is a COVID free-zone as there have still been no cases of the virus recorded in this town of Murgon. In fact there are still only five active case in the whole state, despite a spike in Victoria and a recent increase in New South Wales.

So, pull up a chair, and sit back and let's read these poems some of you suggested I might like to write.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Greg Cain (boxelderred)

"When there’s room on the slate, I’d really love to hear your take on Men at Work. They did a lot in the 80s to put a perception of Oz on the map. Maybe you could tell us about Vegemite while you’re at it...I should have tried it when I was in Melbourne years ago, but alas I did not."

Greg, you are right that Men at Work were very instrumental in helping put Australia (our musicians and lifestyle) on the world map during the 80s. I started to research with the intention of writing a poem about the group, but it turned out to be a much bigger story than I could even go close to cover in a poem. It is actually quite tragic in regard to a court case involving the song, and so I think it is best if I just direct you to the Wikipedia article (click 'Men at Work' above.) I am including the video of the song 'Down Under' however.

'Vegemite,' on the other hand, is a different story. I hope you enjoy this poem.

Ode to Vegemite

Oh, how I love my Vegemite,

That famous Aussie spread.

Give it to me day or night,

On toast, crumpets, scones, or bread.

I’m sure it’s an acquired taste,

But I’ve had it from a child.

The first taste’s quite surprising-

It’s not exactly mild.

The flavour’s strong and salty,

Like umami or beef bouillon.

So spread it very lightly,

Don’t thickly smear it on.

It’s made from brewer’s yeast extract

With added vegetable and spice,

Rich in ‘B’ group vitamins,

And to Aussies oh so nice.

Made famous by group ‘Men At Work’

In their hit song called ‘Down Under.’

“I come from a land down under,

Where beer does flow and men chunder..”

Buying bread from a man in Brussels

He was six-foot-four and full of muscle

I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"

He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich

— Colin Hay, Men at Work ~ Down Under

Spreading Vegemite’s an art

That takes time to perfect.

“Less is more” the saying goes,

And this you must respect.

It doesn’t go with margarine,

That is a ghastly sin!

It needs a base of butter,

Firm and thick, not soft and thin.

Then brush the spread on lightly.

If on toast, then eat it quick,

Before the butter starts to melt.

That really is the trick.

It keeps forever on the shelf,

No need for refrigeration.

A staple food in every home

In this Down Under nation.

It’s history is engrossing,

So, I urge you all to read

The link that I’m including here.

It gives you all the facts you need.

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Vegemite

Liz Westwood (Eurofile)

"You asked for ideas. Here's a couple: how about a poem contrasting the lot of a poor man with a rich one?

Having just returned from grocery shopping, I wonder if there's mileage in a humorous poem about all the post-COVID safety measures we have to take? I'm sure many of us are fast developing OCDs about hand washing and face masks."

Thank you for both those prompts, Liz. Both your requested poems are below.

Image by Frantisek Krejci from Pixabay

Image by Frantisek Krejci from Pixabay

The Ballad of Rich vs Poor

How we define what’s rich or poor

Depends on who we are-

Our family upbringing,

Our type of home or car.

If we are taught the value

Of life’s most basic needs-

Enough food on the table

To nurture those it feeds.

But those who are born wealthy

Often can’t relate to need.

Money attracts money,

And that often leads to greed.

Sometimes we live beyond our means,

And want what others have.

The media promotes this myth,

We become a ‘must have’ slave.

Wealth leads to paranoia,

That we’ll lose all that we have,

And we will die a failure,

Buried in a pauper’s grave.

A poor man works hard to survive,

And just live day to day.

Rarely does he earn enough

To save for rainy days.

But often he is rich in heart,

And sometimes goes without

To help a hungry, homeless soul,

Without a thought or doubt.

The rich man may donate as well,

“A philanthropist, “ they’ll say.

But often it’s a tax right-off,

Or publicity at play.

So, when you weigh up rich and poor

Consider moral worth,

And the value of the life you’ve lived,

From the moment of your birth.

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay

Post COVID-19 Safety Measures: A Serious Poem

When will this virus finally end?

Will it just run its course,

Or will a vaccine soon be found

To halt this runaway horse?

When it finally is controlled,

Will we still take due care,

Or will we say, “It was just a bug

That got caught in our hair?”

Will people keep on wearing masks,

(That’s if they ever did)

Keep standing two arms lengths apart,

Or embrace their friends instead?

Perhaps they’ll make up for lost time

And congregate in crowds,

To goad the virus to come back,

Saying, “Do your best, you coward!”

Many will ignore the risk

Of a deadly second wave.

They want life back the way it was-

More foolish than they’re brave.

As long as they have hand sanitizer

To last a year or two,

And enough supply of toilet rolls

For an apocalyptic poo.

But let’s be optimistic,

Though not reckless or too bold.

Then recovery can begin,

And the world won’t be on hold.

Let’s take the remote control off ‘pause”

And press the “play” instead.

But until then keep wearing masks,

It sure beats being dead.


© 2020 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 22, 2020:

Thank you Greg. Now you know all about Vegemite at least. Yes, please do read up on the Men At Work story. All because of a comment on a TV show that a 15 second rift in the song was similar to that in a much older children’s song “kookaburra Sits in an Ild Gum Tree” they were sued for breaching copyright for entire royalties 60- 40 in the other’s favour. It wasn’t even by the person who wrote the song and who wasn’t concerned at the time, but by a company’s that brought the rights to the Kookaburra song and others and then deliberately looked for similarities in any others more recent for the express reason of trying to exercise copyright claims. I was peeved. The band member who actually wrote the music for the song eventually died indirectly because of this. Tragic.

greg cain from Idaho, USA on September 22, 2020:

John - fantastic! I’d no idea the history and tradition of vegemite. I am quite certain it’s an acquired taste, though I do still wish I’d tried it when I was down under in 2008. I am now piqued as regards Men at Work and will do the homework later today when my wife and I are done with housework this AM. Thanks for remembering me and sorry I issued this. My guess is we were moving my son that week and I spent zero time online or on computer. Thanks again, John and great work on this edition, as always!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 04, 2020:

Thank you Rasma. I always appreciate your comments.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 30, 2020:

Haha Mark, I suppose you could call it that. Thanks for reading.

Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on July 30, 2020:

Yikes, Vegemite. Sounds like a vegetarian SPAM. Funny poem, John.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 28, 2020:

Thank you for reading these poems Rasma. I hope all is well with you.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 28, 2020:

I always hope what I write has some educational value MsDora. I find humour usually makes lessons easier to learn. Yes, Vegemite is similar to Marmite but I think it tastes slightly better.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 28, 2020:

Loved all of them and powerful message on the COVID.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 27, 2020:

The COVID is a timely message for all. The rhymes make it fun to read while we learn the seriousness of it. Never heard of Vegemite, but now I realize its our Marmite. Even the ballad teaches some values. Quite an educational bunch of poetry.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 26, 2020:

Thank you Lee. I appreciate that comment. My aim is to try to make poetry appealing to everyone, including those who say they don’t normally enjoy poetry.

Lee A Barton from New Mexico on July 26, 2020:

I'm not normally a poetry fan, but I certainly did enjoy yours!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 26, 2020:

Yes, we are fortunate so far Devika. I am glad you enjoyed these poems. Please take care.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 26, 2020:

Hi Jodah I admire how Australia has isolated themselves from the world to avoid spreading of the virus. As far as the poems go you have done a great amount of writing and for each indeed. I enjoyed reading and liked all three poems.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 25, 2020:

Thank you Peggy. I am glad the rich vs poor poem resonated with you. You need to taste Vegemite at least once in your lifetime. Sorry to hear how bad the virus is where you are. If everyone obeys directions we will overcome this virus sooner than later.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 25, 2020:

The Ballad of Rich vs. Poor resonated with me the most, but all three of your poems were good. I am another person who has never tasted vegemite. The last two lines of your Post COVID-19 Safety Measures poem is succinct and to the point.

"But until then keep wearing masks,

It sure beats being dead."

Wearing masks also shows concern for others. We are all in this pandemic together. Sadly, our area is one of the hotspots because of doing too little too late and opening up too soon. I am glad you are doing much better where you live.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 25, 2020:

Haha thank you Audrey. I was waiting for someone to comment on that line. So glad to receive your comment, and glad you enjoyed these poems.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 25, 2020:

"The apocalyptic poo" had me in stitches and then came "It sure beats being dead." John, your poetic genius just keeps expanding. I loved each poem but my favorite was...you guessed it "Post COVID-19 Safety Measures."

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 25, 2020:

Hello Lora. Yes, I feel for the people of America, and how the virus has been handled (or mishandled.) We are fortunate our Government acted reasonably quickly, like New Zealand. The gap between rich and poor has been widening for decades, but if there is any good to come from this current situation there may be some readjustment in regard to the way economies are handled and maybe wealth distribution.

Lora Hollings on July 24, 2020:

I sure wish that I was living in Australia now. The US has not done a good job at managing this virus. I think you could describe what happened here in most of the states as too little, too late. I think a mindset early on that attitude could defeat this virus, took hold and we're paying for it now! It seems like mankind's hubris always leads to his downfall. Perhaps we will all learn a lesson in humility and finally realize that we are not invincible and that we need to be more mindful about our words and actions having negative consequences. I loved your poems, however. My favorite was The Ballad of Rich vs Poor. I think you really hit upon an important truth. We should be more concerned about moral worth and the value of the life we've lived not how much money we have or what our house or car is worth! Great job, John. Thanks for sharing your wonderful talent and insights.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thank you for visiting the porch, Linda. I am glad you enjoyed the Men at Work song and the poems. Most people who try Vegemite for the first time hate it, so I guess it is an acquired taste. We start eating it when we are babies and first starting to eat solid food. Take care.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on July 24, 2020:

Great poetry from the porch. Loved that song by Men at Work. I have never tried vegemite but from what people have told me, not so good. LOL I really like the photo of your porch. Very charming.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thank you Peg. I really appreciate your kind comment.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Anything that makes us smile and feel lighthearted is great, Mary. If my poems did that I succeeded in my goal.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thanks for liking the Vegemite poem, Diana. It is similar to a marmite but tastes slightly different.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thanks for reading, Nithya. Yes I hope it ends soon too.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Wow, that’s expensive, Linda. We get a large jar for $10 Aussie dollars which is only about $7.50US. It goes a long way, but still.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 24, 2020:

Lovely adventure into poetry land, John. I loved the one about Vegemite.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 24, 2020:

I enjoy reading your poems. It makes me smile and feel lighthearted.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on July 24, 2020:

Love your Vegemite poem. Love the combination of butter with a thin smear of salty treat too :)

We have Marmite equivalent, in South Africa. Thanks for sharing your lighthearted poetry.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 24, 2020:

I enjoyed reading all your poems. I hope this pandemic comes to an end soon and yes as you say we have to follow all precautions and wear masks.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 24, 2020:

John, I don't think Vegemite is available in the U.S. (yes, I know, we're culturally deprived). I looked on Amazon and can get a small jar for $10.00 plus shipping (yikes!).

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Hi Shauna. Yes, I am grateful Australia is so isolated geographically from much of the world at the moment. It makes it much easier to try to contain the virus as long as State borders remain closed.

If everyone does their best to obey social distancing, wearing masks in public etc. it will help stop the spread and eventually overcome this thing. I am glad I informed you a little on Vegemite. I love the stuff.

No, I have been so busy writing that I haven’t had a chance to do any drawing. Thanks for the reminder. Yes it is a relief to be able to travel to see family now. Trying to do that now I’m case there is a spike in the virus and restrictions are reintroduced.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thank you so much Anupam. Your kind comment is much appreciated. Did you get my latest email? Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Hi Linda, thank you for visiting the porch. I am glad that you are enjoying the series. I am surprised you have never tried Vegemite. A teaspoon of it added to soups, stews, or gravy really enhances them too. I guess it is a little like miso, though I am not sure I have tried “white” miso.

I am sorry to hear about the Covid situation in your State. The number of deaths and current daily increases are very disturbing, and I understand how worrying it must be not to be able to visit your older brother. Prayers go out to your family’s safety and for your country, and I hope things improve sooner than later.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 24, 2020:

John, you're so fortunate to have little to no COVID cases in your town. Unfortunately, Florida is now one of America's hot spots. Many counties have mandated the use of masks when in public areas. We have to wear them at work whenever we leave our offices and venture into common areas or to another co-worker's office. It is what it is. If masks will help stop the spread, I'm in. Defiance, in my opinion, shows blatant disrespect for fellow humans. I won't play that game.

Loved all of these poems. I especially enjoyed learning about Vegemite. I always wondered what Men at Work's lyrics, "she just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich" meant.

Stay safe, my friend. Glad to hear you and your wife are able to get out to see family and that your freelance career has picked up.

Have you done any artwork lately? You're an amazing artist, John.

Have a great weekend!

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on July 24, 2020:

Amazing poems dear john. loved them all.

Take care.

Lots of love.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 24, 2020:

John, I too opted for "all of the above." I've never had Vegemite but I'm willing to give it a try. If it's salty/umami I'm all for it. (BTW, does it taste anything like white miso?)

The ballad of rich vs. poor really hit the nail on the head. It's what's in the heart that counts.

As you know, I live in the U.S., and I live in the State where Covid first appeared. We're not doing well. Our numbers continue to go up and up--over 100 cases in my county just yesterday. There have been 1,600 deaths. My daughter has had to postpone her wedding until next year and I haven't seen my elderly brother (he's 93) since February.

Thank you for continuing this series. Don't stress about deadlines; whenever you publish, we'll be here waiting for you. It's a bright spot in my day, that's for sure.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Ruby, it is hard for me to imagine anyone who hasn’t heard of Vegemite . Sorry to hear that Virus cases are growing in your county. Maybe you should wear those masks supplied by the insurance company. Stay safe.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Kyler, it is good that The Ballad of Rich vs Poor appealed to you. In regard to my “dig” at the “non maskers,” My wife and I have home made masks that she sewed up but really only when we go to visit in the city or more popular area. We rarely wear them here in our town. In Melbourne, due to a spike, masks are now mandatory and there is a $3000 if you leave home without wearing one. To each his own. Thank you for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Liz, I hope you enjoyed your time away, but yes, your return was good timing as it coincided with the publishing of this hub. Glad to hear that you like Vegemite, and thanks for commenting.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 24, 2020:

I have never heard of vegemite, isn't that strange? I liked all the poems, esp. the poor vs. the rich. We now have 13 cases of the virus in our county, not long ago, we only had 1. My insurance co. sent me two green masks with built in nose pinchers, I guess they don't want to pay a BIG hospital bill. lol....I'm glad you got to travel. I think I've forgotten how to drive. Take care and keep on writing poetry.

Kyler J Falk from California on July 24, 2020:

"The Ballad of Rich vs. Poor" was my favorite on the porch from this week, and it contains sentiments I hope to instill within my son about the idea of wealth and riches. Money has always come and gone on both polar extremes for me, and it has instilled that atrocious greed that I don't want him to know. I'll instill within him the fact that if he has love, friends, food, and shelter without worry then money will come as needed.

Since you wrote a dig about non-maskers and went the mask-nazi route with your SARS-CoV-2 poem I, of course, am going to dig back here and say most non-maskers aren't doing it to be brave. For myself and the many of us ignoring the mask guidelines, just like mask-nazis wanting people to get sick and die for not wearing a mask to prove a point, we are proving the narrative about masks doesn't really hold true in every context.

Cowards bend to assurances of the tyrants on frail sciences still undergoing study because they think they'll be safe, the brave are getting sick because they're just cowards behind the veil, and then there are those breaking the rules to prove you can do so conscientiously, responsibly, and safely! Too much generalizing going around about masks when there are thousands, if not millions of us around the world safe and healthy without masks when it is, in fact, safe to be without them.

Mask-nazis are too prevalent to just let that one slide under the radar without a response. When you're walking evidence against the narrative, along with many others doing the same, can't help but stick to your guns!

Another great week on the porch, John, always looking forward to more!

Liz Westwood from UK on July 24, 2020:

Thanks, John. I have been away recently, visiting relatives, so thought I might have missed these poems, as I paused notifications. Great timing and, as ever, I really appreciate your inciteful poetry. I had an uncle, who introduced me to vegemite. I loved it. He must have tracled down a UK supplier. We have marmite and shop brand varieties, but they are never quite the same as my memories of vegemite.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 24, 2020:

That's an interesting story! Do you think that's how Marmite (Ma might) got its name? I'll look it up!

Just had a look. It's originally the name for a French casserole dish ('marmeet') and still bears a picture of that on the label. It's certainly good to use for added flavour in casseroles.


John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Yes, Ann. I have tried Marmite in fact and yes it does have a stronger taste. I prefer Vegemite, but I could eat Marmite and get used to it if I couldn’t access Vegemite (which was originally called Pawill as a play on words...Ma might, but Pa will. However it didn’t sell with that name so they held a competition to choose a better name.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thanks for your encouraging comment about this series, Bill. Yes, let’s both keep on writing and entertaining each other for another two decades...sounds good.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 24, 2020:

I meant to say, John, that here in Britain is the rival to Vegemite (which I think is available but not widely), Marmite. It is a 'love it or hate it' thing. I was brought up on it. It's a yeast extract and is very strong (more so than Vegemite) and used to be thicker but seems to have thinned lately. If you get the chance to try it, do! I love both Marmite and Vegemite but then my partner is an Ozziephile (is there such a word?) so I have to don't I?!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2020:

I could relate most to Rich vs Poor, but I loved them all. May the Poems from the Porch live a very long life, my friend. I love this series, and I hope good health allows you to entertain us for another decade, at least...oh hell, let's shoot for two decades, shall we?

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thank you, Pamela. Lease do check out the Vegemite link. ThE history behind it is an interesting one.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Flourish, yes I am grateful that I am getting plenty of work. I am constantly amazed at people Hough and their reluctance to do what is obviously right or the community as a whole. Let’s just hope that when there is a vaccine most will accept it.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 24, 2020:

As usual, John, I liked all of your poems. I thought the one about vegemite was fun. I have never had vegemite and I am going to check out the link. I think the message about the virus was important.

Have a wonderful weekend, John.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 24, 2020:

It’s a good problem you have regarding work. So many people are without. I especially enjoyed the post-COVID poem. I suspect that once we get a vaccine we may have a hard time talking some groups into it, thus dragging out this problem.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

I always look forward to your comments Lorna. Glad you enjoyed the Vegemite poem most. Yes, there is a distinct difference between Vegemite and Marmite. I think you always prefer the one you grew up with. See you next week. Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thanks, Eric. People kept saying they had trouble choosing so I thought I’d include that. Yes, it is a catchy tune.

Lorna Lamon on July 24, 2020:

Greetings from the Emerald Isle John and here we are again. I enjoyed each poem for different reasons, however, my favourite would have to be the vegemite poem.

Living in Australia I always craved Marmite, however, I eventually got used to Vegemite, and loved it on toast. A brilliant ode to this Aussie icon. Loved it. Until next time John and I'm pleased to hear you are a covid free zone. Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Thank you for the kind comment, Rosina. Yes, my town has been fortunate touch wood.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 24, 2020:

Good to see you as the first person to read and comment, Ann. Glad you like these poems and the one on the typewriter as well. T is wonderful having hens as pets isn’t it? Yes, I will write one about them chicken or the egg.’ Thanks for the suggestion.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 24, 2020:

Yahoo, you put in "all of the above". This one is really cool. I could get into all of them. Of course the song will stick with me all day.

Rosina S Khan on July 24, 2020:

All the poems in this collection are lovely and I just couldn't pick up my fave one. Thanks for sharing. Good to know your town is free from the virus. Have a great day!

Ann Carr from SW England on July 24, 2020:

Superb poems, John. If you'd included the one pictured on the typewriter, I'd have chosen that one; it's beautiful and it echoes how I feel about the virus.

If you're snowed under, then keep this suggestion for any time later; just thought I'd say it before I forget! How about a poem about the chicken or the egg?! This comes from now having chickens who have been very obliging, since the day after we had them, with their egg production.

Good news about your state. Hope you're keeping safe and well.


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