Those with dental-phobia know exactly what I’m talking about
in this parody of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy classic, The Raven.


Once upon a Monday dreary, half-awake with eyes still bleary,
I grab my keys and purse and check my watch and hurry out the door
To the dentist I am heading, an appointment I’ve been dreading,
through my body, fear is spreading, knowing what she has in store
On display on a metal tray, the wicked things she has in store
Just instruments, and nothing more

Ah, distinctly, I remember Novocaine needles, long and slender
plunging deep, this way and that, injecting more and more and more
The serum slowly penetrates while anxiously my jaw awaits
the numbness I both love and hate, as my poor molar she explores
Steel probe picking, sometimes sticking, in the molar she explores
A cavity, and nothing more

Lying there fat-lipped and fretting, every pore profusely sweating,
I watch her scrutinize her weapons, choosing which will win the war
She re-checks x-rays, preps the filling, then leans in and starts her drilling,
prolonged squeals I find bone-chilling; in their wake, tooth dust and gore
Left to languish, in mute anguish, choking on tooth dust and gore
I dare not swallow anymore

Presently my will grows stronger; hesitating then no longer,
I mmmph! and yank the sleeve of the assistant who’d forgot her chore
Noticing my apprehension, she snaps quickly to attention,
suctioning with great intention all around the hole they bored
I pray, God willing, soon that filling will be in the hole they bored
Please, I cannot take much more

As measured blasts of arctic air connect with the exposed repair,
I almost fly out of the chair; Sweet Jesus, mercy, I implore!
Once the filling’s firm in place, she gently files and smoothes and scrapes
until the tooth’s the proper shape, my bite just as it was before
Grinding, fussing, re-adjusting, everything just as before
Not quite… she grinds a little more

Upon completing her inspection, she declares her work perfection
Relieved, I stretch and rub my waking jaw, where it’s already sore
Then she announces without warning, she has time this very morning
for my other tooth that needs restoring, but I’m already out the door
Car keys jingling, handbag swinging, I’m already out the door
Back next week… or nevermore

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  1. judyrutrider November 4, 2018 / 1:07 am

    What’s next? An ode to the root canal? Oh, please no! This one made me squirm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 4, 2018 / 8:56 am

      Thanks, Judy. If you were squirming, I had you right where I wanted you. Did you know The Raven is eighteen stanzas long? Y’all got off easy! I took good notes on my recent root canal experience though, so you never know. 🙂


    • Just Joan November 4, 2018 / 8:58 am

      Thanks, PB. Or is it Siskel and Ebert? This is a fun performance piece for poetry readings. 🙂


      • pranabaxom November 4, 2018 / 9:46 am

        Should I have given 😀😀😀
        It was a fun poem. I recently had an old crown removed and replaced. So I can relate to it instantly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tippy Gnu November 4, 2018 / 8:02 am

    I understand your fear. I was feeling it myself while reading this poem. I’ll take a talking raven any day over the drill of a dentist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 4, 2018 / 9:18 am

      Thanks, Tippy. This pretty much sums up every cavity-filling experience I’ve had since I was eight years old. When I’ve asked my dentists why they chose that profession, they say they have small hands, or they’re fascinated by teeth, or everyone in their family is a doctor of some sort; none have ever admitted to being a closet sadist. Following a cleaning and exam, there is no phrase so sweet as “No cavities, see you in six months.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joyce Robinson November 4, 2018 / 8:25 am

    With you all the way😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 4, 2018 / 9:33 am

      Thanks, Joyce. Their two most ridiculous phrases are “Just relax” and “Let me know if you’re not OK.” I unwittingly leave claw marks on the armrests, and all I can manage to say through that mouthful of hands and instruments is a weak “Mmmph, mmmph, mmmph” that gets drowned out by the noise of drilling and suction. 🙂


    • Just Joan November 4, 2018 / 11:22 am

      Thanks, Dianne. I am a dental-phobe of the highest order, and figured this gritty description would resonate with readers who’ve also been in the hot seat. 🙂


  4. L. T. Garvin, Author November 9, 2018 / 10:57 am

    Oh Joan, this definitely made me uncomfortable. You’ve brilliantly captured every horrific detail of dental torture! Oh sure, it’s a cavity and nothing more, haha! I’m out the door with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan November 9, 2018 / 6:05 pm

      Thanks, Lana. I don’t think exposure therapy works because I’ve been through this dozens of times with no apparent effect on my anxiety. Novacaine is bearable only because dental work without it would be barbaric. The smell of hot, decayed teeth as they drill makes me nauseous. I have almost, in desperation, yanked the suction wand out of the assistant’s hand. The worst for people with sensitive teeth (read: me) is the frigid pressurized air they use to blast off any remaining crud and dry the tooth before they set the filling. I’ve got one leg inching over the edge of the chair before she’s even finished. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. circumstance227 February 23, 2019 / 4:57 pm

    Another classic, 42 – I like this more than the original. (It’s more relatable.) If I had one fear, it wouldn’t be of death, it would be of dentists. There must be a term for that – “dentophobia” maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan February 23, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      That was the consensus of my poetry group as well. They said they were glad I hadn’t gone on for 18 stanzas like Poe’s Raven, six was enough to have them squirming in their seats. 🙂


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