A Petless State

after Katherine Philips’ A Married State, 1664

A house with pets affords but little grace.
The best of dogs or cats destroy the place.
Note when you visit friends you can detect
foul odors, hairballs, housekeeping neglect.
A petless state insures all’s calm and clean.
It’s chapel-quiet, well-ordered, serene.
No barking dogs to urinate and gnaw.
No snarling cats to pounce and bare sharp claws.
Few extra chores to waste your hours and days,
you may relax and dream, perchance to play.
Be gracious, say: How cute! But think: en garde!
Ignore, disdain the popular canard—
that you are most peculiar, heartless, cruel,
if you eschew cat-hair and doggie drool.




I need silence. My poor nerves—alack!
are frazzled by continual random sound:
in stores, in gyms, in places all around,
dim-witted pop tunes pipe through every crack.
I’m unsure why society’s on this track,
insipid songs unending as background,
set at full volume, ruthlessly to pound
our minds to mush, then harden them to plaque.

There is a magic made by quietude.
The only way I can compose a sonnet
is to heed the tranquil, artful voice
suggesting rhymes in a noiseless interlude.
In this hushed room I don my poet’s bonnet:
rare words make metric music. I rejoice!



Mary Jane Myers resides in Springfield, Illinois.  She  is a retired JD/CPA tax specialist.    Her debut short story collection Curious Affairs was published by Paul Dry Books in 2018.

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14 Responses

  1. Paddy Raghunathan


    Whether you are blessed with quietude or not, you must keep writing.

    Sweet poems.

    Best regards,


  2. Paul A. Freeman

    Lovely, Mary Jane. I’m not a pet person myself, though I guess you may be running the gauntlet here.

    As for silence when sonnet-ing, from a young age I had to learn to work in a room with TV and mayhem, and therefore find it impossible to work in silence.

    I really enjoyed the gradual and direct build up of arguments in each poem to the explosive (metaphorically) reveal. It feels quite unique.

    Thanks for the reads.

  3. Shamik Banerjee

    Mary, I love your sweet and refreshing poems, especially the first one. There was a time when my home used to be a cat zoo with thirteen cats (now three) scrambling everywhere. So, the struggle is real, and I understand. But what to do? I love cats, haha! It’s a beautiful poem, and I love the word ‘chapel-quiet’. Also, since I have read Philip’s ‘A Married State’, reading your poem was an equally delightful experience.

    • Mary Jane Myers

      Dear Shamik
      Thank you for your kind comments. I also am a “secret cat lover.” For some reason, cats “come to me”–I think it’s because I am careful to respect their “space.” Cats look you over first, and only after careful consideration, will they approach!
      Most sincerely, Mary Jane

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Ms. Myers, thank you! At last a poem against the foul habit of keeping animals in one’s dwelling.

    My mother had an old school-days friend whom we visited about once a year. This lady had over twenty cats (the number varied from visit to visit) and three dogs. Her home, needless to say, smelled like the monkey house in the zoo. My brother and I dreaded going there. The woman was extremely kind and charitable, but I don’t know how she and her family tolerated the pervasive stench. My mom would say “They just don’t notice it.”

    Your sonnet “Shush!” touches on another pet peeve. Much of modern society seems to think that unending noise is desirable. And even when there is a chance for peace and quiet, many persons walk around with earplugs that carry those “dim-witted pop tunes” into their brains endlessly. I think silence terrifies many folks.

    • Mary Jane Myers

      Dear Joseph
      Thank you for your perceptive comments. I am laughing out loud at the image of the cat-loving lady! Our family used to “visit the farm” in Iowa–my father’s sister Molly was married to a prosperous farmer. On a farm, animals are everywhere, and the animal noise is ear-splitting. But Aunt Molly did not allow any animals in the home. Cats lived in the barn, and controlled rodents. I remember their hanging onto the screen door with their claws, begging to come inside the house! Dogs protected the farmstead and rounded up cows.

      I am more of a “cat-person” than a “dog-person”–I like the stand-offishness of cats. I also like their playful antics.

      The phenomenon of “constant noise” is interesting, isn’t it? I think people may feel so isolated and unloved, now that the protective net of extended families largely has disappeared. The noise perhaps is a substitute for a large noisy loving family.

      Most sincerely, Mary Jane

  5. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Mary Jane, I can identify with being with or without pets. Sometimes I had one and more often I had none until a late marriage when my now deceased new wife brought three dogs to my house. The dachshund hated me, the aging chihuahua made a mess everywhere, and the toy poodle kept barking at nothing. Two of them died in the short interim of our marriage and with her demise, her daughters fortunately relieved me of the dachshund that hated me. I treasure my silence and vowed not to get married again if I had to be nice to a pet belonging to my prospective wife. Of course, love could still play a trump card. Thus, I revel in your second poem and felt at peace after reading both of them, although I use my tv as a nightlight. Thank you.

    • Mary Jane Myers

      Dear Roy Eugene
      Thank you for your kind comments. I sympathize with your struggles. Your account about your problems with the three dogs seems similar to the issues that arise when older people marry and the spouse(s) has(ve) children from a prior marriage. Then the complications begin in earnest! (Of course, the emotions involved are engaging topics for novels and poems!) But love is so necessary, for all of us.

      I don’t have a TV, but I confess to the constant electronic presence of you-tube videos!

      Most sincerely
      Mary Jane

  6. Norma Pain

    I love and crave peace and quiet, but sadly it is very difficult to find total silence anywhere. Even in our homes, we have electric fridges, heating appliances, etc., that all create their own necessary, low background noises. Your two lovely poems at least brought me peace of mind. Thank you Mary.

    • Mary Jane Myers

      Thank you Norma for your kind comments. I agree, the ubiquitous background noise can be irritating, especially at certain “whining” wavelengths, and also if the volume waxes and wanes. It’s especially a problem with “open space” floor plans. One can hear the noisy ice-maker all the way across the home!
      Most sincerely
      Mary Jane

  7. C.B. Anderson

    We keep no pets in our house at present, and sometimes we set out traps for ants or fruit flies. That’s it! Animals should live outside, period. Nice work, Mary Jane.

    • Mary Jane Myers

      Dear C.B.
      Thank you for your encouraging words. I often wonder if the animals agree with us. I notice my brother’s two “indoor” cats spend a lot of time perched at the windows, intent on watching the world outside. They twitch their tails madly when they spot birds, and they paw constantly at the glass, perhaps hoping that somehow they can find an escape hatch–freedom at last!

      Most sincerely,
      Mary Jane


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