In the background there was a sound I can’t forget

nor remember. I could hear the speed of the instruments moving

in small regions close.


Shortly before I had spoken to someone on the floor.

Where is the switch for this? How is it that that wont

go off? Has this thing been oiled lately?


Brad from Medevac who is generous with his instructions

showed me the sharp end of the thing that made

the whole lot spin. What you do is you put that in there.


From the window outside it was frosty & gross. There were

driplets pinned to trees & the cars were late & dewy.

Things melt & sprinkle. I could feel the rolling pain.


With the artillery machinery you should always wear a special hat

& capped boots. I was working with my hands & laptop mainly &

there was no hat.


I’m not sure what comes next exactly. You never are.

Some things start where they mean to end. You could just tell it

was cold by the air pinching.


When I woke my stomach had a need for the white of milk

& the red of jam & bread. The things you eat when you remember

back to having the food prepared & plated, salt & peppered.


In the tidy room with its gadgetry & pulse equipment I was taken

with the pipes running in my arm & the comfy measurement

of temperature.


When the faces of the boys came to see under the covers

I could tell the fixing job hadn’t taken & my standing would

be hard on one leg.


Later they told me the cold was the shock. & soon not too far

off I would be feeling the heat in my stump. I would wait for the

Dial Tone to tell my folks—I am now less.

Sonja Yelich lives in Auckland with her partner and their four children. Her latest book is Get Some (Auckland University Press, 2008), which includes this poem and “Foxholes—Nooses” (Best New Zealand Poems 2005).

Yelich comments: ‘Whilst the poem “Less” focuses for the most part on an accident, it is more about returning from conflict with less—and not necessarily in the physical sense.’

Poem source details >



Auckland University PressGet Some
Best New Zealand Poems 20022004 and  2005
Trout 15
nzepc—New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre: Western Springs Zoo