Robert Lowell

Under the Dentist

“When I say you feel, I mean you don’t. This thing’s
metaphysical not sensational:
you come here in your state of hypertension
Bob…you lie quiet, be very, very good —
do you feel the jangling in your nerves?
You will feel the city jangling in your nerves,
a professor might even hear the cosmos jangle,
You watch news, the pictures will flick and jangle.
You don’t have to be I.Q. or Maria Callas
to have feelings. Thinking burns out nerve;
that’s why you cub professors calcify.
You got brains, why do you smoke? I stopped smoking, drinking,
not pussy…it’s not vice. I drill here 8 to 5,
make New York at sunrise — I’ve got nerves.”