Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fantastic Poem: "Drug Company Dinner"

I recently had the pleasure to present a grand rounds for Summa Health System in Akron, where my host was Dr. Joe Zarconi, who rounded out the panel discussion on Pharma issues by reading the poem below. The poem, as the saying goes, was worth the price of admission. As the poem is available on line (, I trust I won't get hauled off by the copyright police if I reprint it here:

Richard Berlin
Drug Company Dinner
Psychiatric Times May 2005 Vol. XXII Issue 6

I dressed in a suit and cashmere coat,
a young man parked my car.
Red-dressed starlets flashed cleavage
and offered me black Beluga caviar
on buckwheat blinis. They sat me at a table
laid out with silver on white linen cloth,
each setting trimmed with an orchid
in a royal blue vase. And I might have heard
someone speak about doses and side effects
before the waiters served sea urchin eggs
arranged on white porcelain shells, circled
with fresh basil and warm tomato puree.
They carried two pound lobsters, rack of lamb,
poured wine into a glass that never emptied,
arranged an oak leaf and beet salad
into a still-life painting, fetched a cheese course
from the farms of France, and finished with chocolate
soufflé, frozen glasses of grappa, and a tray
topped with towers of Belgian truffles.
And a starlet held open my cashmere coat,
the young man returned my warmed-up car,
and I walked outside and breathed the Berkshires
in March, the smells of melted snow and sap
flowing in the pines, and I drove the slick surface
that twists and turns up Lenox Mountain, wondering,
really wondering, how much this night had cost me.

Dr. Berlin is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Berlin's book How JFK Killed My Father won the 2002 Pearl Poetry Prize and is now in its 2nd printing, published by Pearl Editions.

(Note: Not that I pretend to be a literary critic, but I can see why this dude wins poetry prizes... catch the imagery of the road with its "slick surface that twists and turns...")

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