RONALD PALMER lives in the Richmond District of San Francisco with his partner Kevin Rolston. His first poetry collection is titled Logicalogics (Soft Skull, 2005) . He graduated from NYU's program in creative writing (MA, 1993) and also from Binghamton University (Ph.D., 1996). A chapter from his porn thriller, Prick Queasy, is forthcoming from Summer BF Press.

The Reluctant PharmaWhore

          Ronald Palmer's first real job, besides mowing lawns and chopping wood for his neighbors, was working summers as a mental health worker in the mid 1980s at the now defunct Fairfield Hills State Hospital in Connecticut. At the age of eighteen, he worked along side night nurses in a locked ward with adult patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disease. (Also subbing occasionally on a separate ward for “shell-shocked” Vietnam Veterans who had gone “berserk”; in hindsight, this was only about a decade after the veterans had returned from the war.  Back when a decade felt like an eternity.)
          His first career plan was to pursue a Ph.D./M.D. in psychiatry, so it's mildly ironic that now, 25 years since his first job as a Mental Health Worker, he is a drug representative for a global pharmaceutical company calling on psychiatrists as customers.

Between 1988 and 2000 he worked as:
·      a dish washer in a pizza place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
·      a counselor in a group home for abused foster children in San Francisco
·      a model/extra in national commercials such as Diet Coke and the defunct MCI
·      a room service waiter at The Mayfair, a fancy upper east side hotel in NYC
·      an advertising traffic coordinator for a Japanese Advertising Corporation called DENTSU on 42nd street in midtown Manhattan
·      an assistant executive at J. Walter Thompson, an advertising company
·      a tutor and instructor at Manhattan Community College for the COPE program for parents in the NYC welfare system
·      a teacher of creative writing at NYU, Binghamton University and Framingham State College during which he moonlighted at Barnes and Noble Bookstore on weekends to supplement a 33K contract salary for a 4X4 teaching load.
·      An international professor of writing and reading seminars for students seeking an M.A. degree in teaching, a position that flew him around the globe from North Africa to Poland, from Bolivia to Costa Rica, Panama to Morocco all during the year in which he enjoyed (what amounted to a writer in residence) a fellowship at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in The Netherlands.

A decade's journey from a post-doctoral stint in the Netherlands to a senior sales specialist position in the world of Big Pharma:

          In the summer of 2000, Ronald Palmer landed at his parents' house in Connecticut, broke and depressed, without any savings and without any job prospects. He took to reading in his bed while overhearing his parents’ blaring television set. To his absolute delight, a few months after repatriation, he got a job as a corporate writer (Free Water! A cubicle of one’s own!) at a corporate moving company that handles employees transferring to positions overseas. The job offered him health insurance, a salary and a gym membership, all of which afforded him the opportunity to move out into his own apartment (with a college friend in Harlem) and ultimately propel himself into a decade long career as a salesperson.
          He became The Avis Guy and sold corporate contracts of Avis-Rent-A-Car all over the Bay Area Peninsula to emerging companies like Google, Netsuite and SanDisk. Eventually he became the #1 salesperson in the country for Avis. (People in stupors pretend to know what they're doing.) Recruited by Pfizer, he sold Viagra for three years in San Francisco before the 2009 layoffs and luckily landed at their arch nemesis, Eli Lilly, to sell Cialis to the same doctors/customers in San Francisco.

Proprietary and Incendiary : {THIS IS NOT ABOUT MY OTHER}

Ronald Palmer’s place of birth: at the top of the stairs of a two-story house near the railroad tracks on Richmond Hill Road in New Canaan, Connecticut on Thanksgiving Day on November 27th, 1966. There was no hospital in the town at the time.

A Play in Two Parts.

{hear simultaneous thudding sounds of Compliance and Ethics
bouncing like rubber balls, one pink, one blue, from the ground of sticky cement.}

Part 1/

CORPOSELF: I am the user. The user presents with co-morbid symptoms typical of the postlust era {Internet vs. intellect} with tidbits of the customer casino.  I am in a state of postlust, porn pills, Viagra and Cialis, fill my trunk. All the doctors want free samples, some of which they actually share with their ‘patients’.

A creeping out of the target HCP (Health Care Professional) with an irksome, presumed intimacy that would creep out any priest, conflated with a false sense of ownership. A creeping in… of thought infecting a library of antibodies, my antibodies. My office is an interchanging waiting room that revolves around San Francisco, California. In the morning I’m in the Castro, in the afternoon, Chinatown, at dinnertime, I’m at a big pharma function in the Financial District. I eat so much I make myself sick with cream and kobe beef and oysters and butter cookies and chocolate and wine and espresso. I shit myself on the car ride home; explosive diarrhea when I make it to my toilet.

PoetSelf: will you falsely identify the gene in question {or positive as it might be to be identified}

PoetSelf: will you pluck out the writer gene, the queer writer gene, the wannabe queer writer gene like a bullet from my chest? How to negotiate being a pharmawhore with the fact that all I want to be is a writer. Even if I’m a bad writer. Even if I’m a “Bad-with-Children” type of queer who’s Blood’s-no-Good for the RED CROSS. This is where my post-queer (only out Pfizer rep on the West Coast) isn’t as clean as it should be.

There’s a queer corporate tension that eclipses my motives to survive, a ghost of my queer always following me, daring me not to return to my 72-year-old parents house. Begging me to hold on to the farce of a six figure position until the entire industry tilts over the patent cliff, capitalizing on a feeling of nausea, of vomiting, of diarrhea, of the tiny orange spiders crawling out of my nose in dreams, digging under my eyelids. The ghost of my queer finally gets me to admit that I hadn’t been properly prepared to be a tenure track professor. Of finally finding that I hadn’t been prepared to feel, anything, especially a failure with only one book a decade after the infamous MFA.

CORPOSELF: YES s/he is the doctor/customer/viewer and s/he is stunned into supposition— (as a best practice)
because I am listening so intently, s/he feels loved—
victim entranced in the subordination of power, s/he literally cannot move.
That’s my premise, jovial comportment with a hint of sparing-daring.

This leveraging of one’s emotional intelligence can often lead to my starting point; my aborted thesis. I’m interrogating xer/her/his buying signs while weaving a dramatic closing question to create a ‘positive tension’ with my premise.
{before I even believe it myself, I’m quantifying the rate of relapse}

Which amps the situation into a need for an emotional exchange even if it’s a promise to change a belief, a behavior, instead of adjunction with a dopamine agent maybe my handshake will turn into a lifetime prescription
especially when s/he is still chewing while treated to a belly full of expensive beef.

Let’s stop stomping around and dance, said the pornaddict, choking on his middle-aged guilt.

PoetSelf: Work has always been torture for me. I have sought out work that I love which is daydreaming in a car looking at the waves at Ocean Beach. Which is masturbating to emergent forms of marine pay per view porn, which is walking around unshaven in a hipster baseball cap with surf company logo in a stupor of my own making.

Full disclosure: a dialectic of madness, a postmortem spiritjump: I am your imposter bear. Tripped up by the hipster mystique, I embrace my own oxymoron. The contradictions begin with dharma of big pharma:  two of the biggest in the industry: Pfizer and Lilly: wish I wouldn’t have to be so shy, I could fry for this.
As my poetself and corpoself strangle each other for time and energy, my poetself asks my corpoself: is publishing my own ‘work’ pointless?

I had Motherwell nightmares about enormous black lemons rolling my off a chopped-off earthquake highway for a very long time. Sometimes the dream revisits me and I turn the black lemons (the size of cement trucks) into pink lemons that burst into a thousand pink bunnies and they tackle me giggling, taking turns nursing on my nipples.

That is the question. Moot or Mute? Egolibido R Us.
Postlust, in my baggage of sadness I jerk off amid the unraveling of this new century. I’ve heard the words Al Ki Da more than love ya hon. Especially from my TV.
[Or a radio of anti-matter prancing and posturing as microsonnets: sonnetweets.]


PoetSelf: What if our galaxy rejects our history?
And I’ll sip a lime green iced tea and write a movie in two pages and observe a hummingbird dipping into the rhododendrons below my window.

CORPOSELF: A digital rectal exam is really the only way to investigate the prostate, maybe even predict early onset BPH. If I conflate the worlds I feel less schizophrenic. My twin is concerned about her anti-psychotic. Her hands are starting to shake during her hospital presentations.

So I do a WEBMD search and find the long-term effects can worsen attention and produce cognitive dwelling (I mean dulling) but when I go off them I can stop crying at work,
She says.

And I’m silent on my cell phone sitting in the front seat of my company car, a 2011 burgundy Ford Fusion, facing Ocean Beach. I watch four crows chase away a stand of seagulls thinking my life is this black hole of sadness or something dramatic like that yet comparatively, people especially Americans say this: “well comparatively we’re better off as Americans.” But are we? I’m totally stumped over that one. As I write this OccupyWallStreet protests take over the globe. I just found out on Twitter that protesters in Oakland had to be rushed to the hospital with broken hands after being arrested. I feel guilty all the time. I’m afraid almost all the time.

IN A WORLD WHERE WE’VE BEEN TAUGHT THAT WORK MUST BE A S:LFIMPMPOS:D TERROR OF OUR OWN PERPETUAL MAKING: I memorize the product information on competitive products.  I have the Epocrates APP. I must increase my scientific knowledge so that the customer trusts me more. I must bring passion for the molecule alive with me voice in a strained elevation. I need to create action by injecting positive tension into the interaction. I tried stimulants to up the ante but they only made me more skittish and scanty when I’d shoot it would hit the opposite wall of my little green S:LFIMPMPOS:D dungeon.
The guilt I ate served to puncture the punctum. I punted this prankster who sprouted his jetsam. I love the picture of me when I was seven posing on the fireplace with my sisters like a little hustler in training or a vamp vamping around without feeling. Wrapped in a black and brown, leopard print robe, I mean: who was I kidding?

PoetSelf vs. CORPOSELF: Is the new form of sonnetweet driving you crazy with inspiration? A: yes.

Is the micro-truncated sonnetweets system of pulsing Jedi {inculcation if hiccuuping joy, a letterplay in two chapters: contra’s diction of malice vs. joyless?}

Or more precisely:
{unpacking the proxy, an incendiary whiteness. A stewing witness
to the masses, I attempt to transcend queerness –‘out at work’ I’ve learned from experiential knowledge simply opens an invitation to objectify and fetishize my erotic practice, yet possibly also opens an even exchange if initiated with levity

with questions like: so are you the top or bottom, JP Marriott, INDIANAPOLIS October, 2011 and to be honest I’m a pervert anyway an inverted invitation to open the opportunity to ask my female cohorts: Do you enjoy anal? Do you and your husband have rip roaring jack-hammering anal sex? {Gulp red wine, everyone guffawing} I mean do you use a riding crop on your husband?)

And I use this unparalleled, corporate farce of compliance into an implicit condemnation, which I think is a grander way of deepening the offense, (more appropriately cruder) a croquet unpacking the witness over the pre-sliced, orange-glazed chicken breasts that nobody has to pay for, or rather everyone must pay for, because it’s a corporate expense.}

Expense accounts reign in the land of pain medicine and anti-depressants, but one eats the guilt, bingeing on billionaires to boot, truth is the blockbuster molecule goes off patent this month, investors fear they can’t play fake

I happen to do false exceptionally well. I fake it so it feels like dwelling in the moment of this add/mission: is a whore to achieve a likefulness? [ballooning contagion, not hiv but more like alogia or aphasia]

a kind of tender kinesthesia that I’ve developed on the company’s dime:
to win me, your listener, is to become my voice plus three.

Part 2/

CORPOSELF: when the robot glances away—as if contemplating the daily frustration of a mentally ill patient— I become the singeing inside, my robot he is sometimes caught cringing on the pre-programmed content.

Robot’s stealthily woven words make me daily into monster, a monster I never deserved. His comportment invokes ownership of thought, of tone,

{Not only intellectual property but think about what we’re giving away to Google, Facebook, even LinkedIn and youtube or Xtube dot com.}

PoetSelf:  I’m in a danger of enthusiasm, a new euthanasia sinking into my person of the year
He’s kissed up with fear. {We’re giving our mom away like butter
to a pen of hot little piggys.
I risk everything to sing at dawn. If I go on in Beckett’s fashion. If I’m going to be honest about how I transcend queerness as a mom.}

PoetSelf: No. Erase this.
Reject as “too weirdly intimate and bizarrely self-effacing, I’m too embarrassed to even re-read this” admitting as a professor I felt superior
yet ultimately degraded in my temptation to eroticize the students—desire always on display even if inverted in dark matter desire plugs the air, at least with the ones who make the desks nervous,

yet rarely emanate pheromones for more than a week, because the child inside the performance keeps leaping forth to challenge the creep in you,
and it’s never 20/20 when you realize: petulance will get you nowhere.

There was this chillingly handsome hockey play and I did find myself crotchgrazing but who hasn’t? come on sometimes it can hit the ceiling with the absolute and ultimate fantasy when the scent of him near me leaning over his paper might have scent me swooning to prison. I don’t even miss him. I guess I wanted to make students think what I thought

Was necessary to think. But was I trying to make them better people? Sometimes. Mostly they were numb kids who didn’t even want to listen, except for that one in one thousand pair of eyes that shine when they listen at you, and inside you’re like: “wow this one’s going to become something special.“

I sell myself as surveyor, as talking meat? The person who prays forever
freaks out and shoots his parents.
I love when I love stuff, Kevin says, hanging his twin hat on either side of the copper curtain rod. Two men and a dog equal family. Reject: reject.
PoetSelf: Dear Poetry stop trying to make me feel bad for not being inclusive: that's not my gruff, a grifter trying to be so human it hurts. Look on the inside of the leather strap for the euro size, apple eyes, you with the cum in your hair. I'm so hubby hungry I want to Jill myself into ghoul.

And then there came the teaching-to-the-test type of thing (try writing when you’re staring at the ceiling too worried about which student thinks you’re cool and which one thinks you’re a total pretentious douche bag

for strutting around with your cock bouncing around inside the green silk pouch
of your white striped, Adidas sweatpants.

All that combined with the fact that the Vice President and over arching Dean
of the college are/were myopic and are/were reductive with regard to their demands, in fact their edict, that we as professors should put our own intellectual fingerprints on the students in other words teach them how to think like us,

a phenomenon sprinkled over my attempt to transcend queerness in an academic institution {postlust pornaddicts want to know: how does your madness drive your egolibido?} would drive any thinking person insane.

CORPO:SELF vs. PoetSelf: My current gig is no less farcical and I think that’s what a job is: a period in which the soul becomes robot and leeches all humanness into a jar carried between the lungs, collecting symbiotically an urgency that bursts

erratically into being

at least within this first decade of the 21st century—decade of terror burns in infamy. And I think I’m at least half to blame. Gnashing and gnawing on a pseudo fame like it means something more than offering a finer curator of one’s own erasure.  I tweet things like: This is not about my other. distraught I internalize the killer the way bread dissolves in red wine


I’m getting the blinking yellow square
does that mean it's still trying?
Counternarrative: There there, tragic hero.


What happened to the Mexican Dream
lilt levels out the evil playing field
Imaginary ancestry


Listening to China waiting
Is my hobby
I love a homey lobby.


Big ups to my queer brothers & sisters living in fascist homophobe driven Uganda, what about them civil rights violations mrs Clinton?


Lurker poking playing pocket pool
with my symphony, a car parked at a curb
In a park where I’m waiting for a verb

To arrive buoyantly
Pornocidal maniacs
wear down the path to righteousness. This is the plague of transparency.


An economy of thought: go spend some more money, honey.
As in multiply me mentally
for the best part of this century,
I heard about my dissection of self as other,
compartmentalize my sexualself into a guilty savior.

I give in; imprisoned I give up. I’m impressed by my terror of failure, of having (at age 45) to move back in with my 72 year old parents.

Ultimately I chose the corporation over a life wallowing in my own celebratory academic’s staid compliance within the thought hoarders of tomorrow. (My mother included.) I’ll let you shine if you let me blow it all to nonsense.

Neuroscience medications and the memorization of the competitive landscape of each product’s information sheet, this seizes me when I’d rather be reading Paul Celan or Jack Spicer who thrill me mostly because of how confounded I feel

when thinking in their pictorials
and perhaps that’s what I’m really seeking. To Step up to a level cerebral fluid
swarming in my synaptic clefts,
potentiating a dopamine component
to being confounded I’m sure, a priori
or fleur-de-lis,
whatever the shucks you want from me. I’ll give it.

CORPOSELF: Incessant self-analysis with an interest in matching the tone and pace of each customer’s ‘segmentation’. That’s how we differentiate which robot we become. Give me some smart and I’ll give you some chum who thinks you really like him. Give me some diary about publishing being pointless and I’ll keep wondering weather or not this even means anything to ward off the mute point in our lives that keeps widening.

As I hit 45 and continue to fear moving back in with my hoarder mother who’s made a cave of emotion out of my childhood home. I’m never alone
as they say when I’m with my iPhone. Freakishly content with my Chinese assembled gadget.

The corporate scientist asks, Is it drugable? Well we’re in phase 3 clinical trials so we’ll know in about a year. He’s a Corpus Casanova. He rides off on a supernova.

Whatever dude. I’m the contradiction jerking around inside my own pretending.
Poet: Self vs. CORPOSELF: A dialectic post-mortem a spirit jump inspective.
Micro, truncated sonnets can be my Tweets: sonnetweets:

1.     most chaotic deterrent (agent for helping forget our terror and loneliness)

2.     funniest inherent (peculiar to inherit a new form from technology and oddly counter intuitive, broadly corporate like a colony of wasps trying to survive, thinking “I’ve thought that before” then moving on because a little pink door shut off that corner of your brain.) I can see how Hart Crane went insane with this always-pounding-decision between money and ownership of thought. In his case I’m convinced he was thrown from the shift no matter how desperate he was an ego like that just doesn’t give in that easily. “At least now he’s free” people say about death but I’m not convinced yet. Why because we like you why because it’s the simplest question why because what am I doing here? Why because you are the imposter bear who dresses himself in the morning and combs the golden gate park for answers in her wounds in her hair in her buses and bushes in her scent of jasmine and earthy eucalyptus in her cinnamon spotted owls that soar from opinion to dominion made of pine and now all the kids say never mind story or selfhood or personal narrative but otherwise without the net of its light blue silk falling all over the bedroom all over your furry shoulders, {the bear is happily jagging but no it’s not my bear, an imposter bear in green funning at me I see him pulsing through the fog running at the seashore, my imposter bear.}

3.     neurotransmitter observant {it’s possible we seek and inspire our own neurotransmitter level or balance our need for a matching synaptic speed of a lover or a mother or someone we live with, otherwise it’s self prescriptive and we cling to some monkey who mimics our circuitry. I guess it’s just a semi-fancier way of saying you get what you stay for.}

4.     pre-formative client relationships {I already know what you like and I’m going to give it to you good. I already know what your favorite drinks are, it’s in the cloud on your personal history, likes and dislikes not to mention your prescribing habits. I’ll swoop down upon the incremental patient and you’ll prescribe more because I say so. We’re like the lemon-flavored mafia.}

5.     We float above your window, forever pacing with your ego. I love to become what you love, I’ll bring you burgers rare with melted gruyere and fries of the side with a seltzer and a chocolate chip cookie,


7.     heteroclite’s impotent stamp on everything I know (Letterplay; two characters inside the self, a corporate and a creative make an oxymoronic life during the North American urban development phase of pre-melt San Francisco written under derision of puppy panic during the Blue Angels display over our Richmond District apartment and this after a morning of puppy Kylie dashing after her blue rubber Frisbee.) Selling is really just bringing out the safe child in someone and making them feel pretend love because pretend love is like erotic pictures to men who can pretend so well they feel love from a movie. Because pretend love is so convincing to the neurotransmitters, the chemical cocktail that floods the nucleus acumens is no different from being listened to as if someone actually cares, using active listening, echoing the concerns of the target patient, target doctor, in fact sometimes even repeating the statement back to the target/viewer/doctor because especially when what we say is repeated back to the robot he feels the warmth of compassion. That’s why psychopaths are so charming; admit it baby, you’re a robot already.

No comments:

Post a Comment