Poetry: Emotion Recognition Task by Tyler Raso

Tyler Raso’s latest poem scratches at a core tension: the abstract mind coming against the bloody body, the thing you throw at the world to see if it can feel. With “Emotion Recognition Task,” Tyler pulls your body into that tension too, as companion, as friend, sharing the one bloody forehead that is never truly far away, from any of us.


Emotion Recognition Task

My teacher noticed how I scratch my wrists
till they bleed like pencil shavings so I meet
with the school psychologist once a week

to study what is wrong with me. I see
into the blue distance, playing that game
with the faces, naming their emotions like a test:

this one is happy, this one is

disgusted, this one is acting surprised
like a goat, this one is late for a procedure
they’re afraid to have, this one needs

to turn around in the maze of their mind,
this one is waiting outside while their parents
decide who will keep them like furniture or an organ,

this one does not see the problem under the
white oak tree, how it shreds the daylight like a migraine,
as a kid knocks their head against the trunk

first like a bell, then like a weapon



Tyler Raso

Tyler Raso (they/them) is a poet, essayist, and multimedia artist with work in DIAGRAM, Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Journal, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. They currently write, study, and teach in Bloomington, IN, tweeting at @spaghettiutopia

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