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April 30, 2010

Making poetry out of a sow's ear

scrapple carvingScrapple, the ultimate mystery meat, turns out to be quite the poetic muse. 

The first annual Dining@Large Scrapple Poetry Contest drew so many hifalutin entries that I brought in a man of letters as judge: John McIntyre.

John is returning to The Sun, but he is not on the payroll yet. So I offered to buy him a pound of Truck Patch Farms scrapple for his trouble.

"I'll do it on the condition that you do NOT give me any scrapple," John replied.

And the winners are:

First place: "The Emperor of Pork" by Voodoo Pork

"The line 'In abattoir vats offalescent orts' alone would make the shade of Wallace Stevens laugh up his sleeve," John wrote.

Second place: "Piedmont Pastoral" by Laura Lee

"The witches, the young lovers, the classical tag -- this one has everything," John said.

I'll be in contact with you both, Voodoo Pork and Laura Lee, to make arrangements for getting your scrapple winnings to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. It was great fun.

Here are the winning poems in full.

"The Emperor of Scrapple" by Voodoo Pork (After Wallace Stevens's The Emperor of Ice-Cream, with apologies)

Call the wrangler of big porkers,
The crepuscular one, and bid him whip
In abattoir vats offalescent orts.
Let the sows dawdle in such pens
As they are used to dwell, and let the boars
Bring apples as porcine gift victuals.
Let be be finale of eat.
The only emperor is the emperor of scrapple.

Take from the hind of swine,
Slapping the three lardy slabs, that sheet
On which she broiled the ungulates once
And spread them so as to cover in corn meal.
If the cloven hooves protrude, they come
To show the shrapnel of hope, and suede.
Let the knife affix its sheen.
The only emperor is the emperor of scrapple.


"Piedmont Pastoral" by Laura Lee

Where hast thou been, sister?
Killing swine.

In the middle of a clearing
three mennonite hags
a cast-iron cauldron
a refining fire
Into the pot go the hog-scotched scraps,
discards from the pig-ham,
meat-scrapings bone-shards
fragments ligaments
snout-screech tail-squeal
[Here's the smell of the blood still]
awful surrendering
offal rendering
heart rending

Up on the laurel hillside
young lovers
scrambling scrappling
scraping grappling
look into the fair and open face of heaven
then play Scrabble with
words inscribed on leaves scattered
before the mouth of a cave.
He gets five points for TRUST
She tops that with eleven points for BETRAY
and loses

Et in Arcadia ego

Circe struts in spiked heels through the sylvan scene,
peers into the darkening cauldron at the hell-broth,
Needs seasoning.
Sage, from the latin salvia, "to heal".
Thyme for courage.

Three hags, stirring expiation in a pot.


Catherine Laime of Harrington, Del., fashions a mare and foal from a block of scrapple during a scrapple carving contest at the 2004 Apple-Scrapple Festival. Sun photo by Kim Hairston

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:48 PM | | Comments (17)


My husband, I think I'll keep him. Why don't you ever write poetry for me, Piglet? I wonder if there is a bacon perfume I could buy?

Super good news about John McIntyre! I never appreciated what he does until he left. Very kind deed, John, to wade through all this stuff.

LV, people seemed to have a lot of fun with this. Maybe there can be future contests. I'm afraid, very afraid.

you people are weird.

Yes, hotdog fingers we are weird. That's a good thing.

Well done, VDP and LL. Both yours and many of the others far exceed the merits of my SPAM ode. In retrospect, mine kind of blows. The rhythm is horrible. I am quite envious of "In abattoir vats offalescent orts". Obviously your passion for the NYT Sunday xword has paid off since I have never seen "ort" anywhere else. One huzzah.

I agree with AC. I think bacon would be the most obvious muse. Or (gag) ranch dressing. Of course LV needs to include a list of semi-absurd vocab.

I tried to do something with Prufrock but I've got no game anymore. My lack of rage has totally killed my creative spirit.

Awesome to hear that JM is coming back. Huzzah! Huzzah! ... wait for it ... Huzzah! Now he can trade his Ed Hardy jeans and wife beaters for his seersucker suit and bowtie. Hu-freakin-zzah!

I'm not worthy

Being both poetically challenged, and a huge fan of Wallace Stevens, I was completely amazed by the winner!

Who the hell is Wallace Stevens?

Aw. How nice for Mr. Piggy. I'm very sad that our other porcine celeb the lovely YumPorchetta didn't contribute. I love her. She even has piggy recipes, but perhaps this offal topic (eek) was not to her standards. I really miss Miss Yum. Please come back sista wife!

I was working on an erotic scrapple ode but fair weather and a restless Jesus (the pool/garden boy) distracted me.

P.S. Amanda C, if Evan doesn't respond to eau du bacon, try essence of Old Bay.

I am honored but am elsewhere and am unable to accept my prize which I hope is perishable. All I have to say is, Hey Owlie ... FACE! Suck it, you pretentious tool! Oh yeah, you're bringin' the Remy next Tgiving. Face!

OMG you are so pretentious. Even tho you dint even contribute to the contest you try to tak ecenter stage and hog the linelight!!! go back tp your acaedemic crap hole where you count the angles on the heads of a pimn. Wah ehvs sir pretensh alotws.

If I had a laurel tree I'd fashion wreaths for VoodooPork and Laura Lee. Congratulations, you two!

And FABulous news about John McIntyre, who has been sorely missed. (Sudden thought: have the remaining Sun writers been deliberately mangling the language in his absence to bring him back?) Will his blog return in glory?

Captcha harks back to scrapple: rashes triggered.

I love scrapple and haven't had it in ever so long, so thank you LV! And what an honor it is to have one's work judged by John McIntyre as one of his first acts upon returning to The Sun. Maybe it's time to renew that subscription I let lapse last April.

VoodooPork, "offalescent" is sublime.

Happy May Day, everyone.

nice. love the blog

Congrats to the winners! I tried to compose an entry, but my head almost exploded so I gave up.
The Sun is so desperate for subscribers that I am getting a year of 3x a week delivery for 4-fricking cents! $ 0.04! I had a 4-cent balance on my lapsed subscription and I could get it refunded or the subscription.

Dahlink, John McIntyre didn't stop blogging, he just moved to a different venue:

His blog will be moving back to the Sun website at some point after he returns.

Yes, Hal, I knew where John's blog moved--but I am sure I am not the only one who visited far less often after it moved away from my blogging home base.

"Sup rebuild" says Captcha. It obviously meant to say "Sun rebuild."

I wonder if you can grill scrapple? I just thought of a new invention. The scrapple dog. Shape scrapple into hotdog shape, grill, serve on bun with mustard. Bam! Perfect way to celebrate another O's defeat. Of course Boh would be trad, but I wonder if there's any PA Dutch beer? Olde Hezekiah's Wunderbrau?


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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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