By Brittany Billmeyer-Finn
How to put these together / How to get the right experience / How to hold everything in the whole wide world/ How to be in my own body / How to be part of a community / How to intersect and overlap / How to pass / How to be in relation despite competition and privilege / How to reauthor the American Dream / How to be in relation despite expectation / How to get paid for the dream / How to keep dreaming despite late payments or missed payments / How to be present / How to present / How to embody / How to unmark
—Cheena Marie Lo, Untitled
This section of an untitled poem by Cheena Marie Lo (pulled from the zine Macaroni Necklace curated by Eric Sneathen) offers accumulations of relation, pointing to the reality of how embodiment is marked by capitalism and the embodied vulnerabilities of these markers as they manifest materially. I read this poem again as I shuffle the deck to pull the last card of this reading, the Final Outcome. The Final Outcome position is not finite but instead an accumulation. It is the mirror in which to reflect the cards that came before it. It is the last stroke of the circle drawn. It is the container that The Hermit calls upon for new possibility.
I pull the Strength card. The Strength card according to The Collective Tarot represents, “surrender, integration, and vulnerability. It’s about living in communion and partnership with all parts of self.”
A major theme for this reading and thus in a queer poetics is relationality. How the subject is marked by encounter and how these marks of difference tell a narrative of systematic oppression across race, gender, class and ability. That this narrative plays out multiple times a day for some, in various spaces, even the radical ones. I return to Lisette’s work, What I Want a Manifesto for Revolutionary Tenderness, “This means actually changing the way we do things-including writing papers, organizing conferences […] socializing, thinking, discussing concepts such as action, environment, nature, revolutionary subjectivity AND collectivity-through self-reflection and awareness.”
In this same series of poems Lo writes, “I still never know what to put together / Something about marking and ways of seeing / the ways that I can never know / the ways that I am marked / the ways that I am seen / the ways that I mark and / the ways that I see / How to put these together / how things look not what they seem”
There is something here about a simultaneous knowing and unknowing. It is in the simultaneity that something emerges or transforms.
The Collective Tarot continues its description for Strength, “It doesn’t make us any less strong when life circumstances demand that we compromise our ideals. We live in a broken system, and we frequently have to use broken tactics in order to survive. If we don’t want to acknowledge we’re compromising our beliefs, we usually pay, in some form, to let someone else compromise for us. Strength is about learning and following your own compass- incorporating the brilliance and idealism of your community and your culture with what you know needs to be done.”
The Strength Card in the Final Outcome position holds the various obstacles of the journey laid out here; tension, self awareness and reconfiguration.
If the Seven of Keys represents the Heart of the Matter then it locates it’s subject in a poetic position of tension. Like Lo does in their work here. The Strength card then empowers the individual to listen to their intuition and know what is best for their survival.
If the Death card represents the Opposing Factor, then the Strength card offers the power to over come the loss and celebrate the new possibility.
If the Eight of Feathers represents Goals, then the Strength card breaks the binds and ignites the labor of reconfiguration as Lisette offers above.
If the Hermit represents the Future, then the Strength card offers itself as the foundation of the container of new possibility.
I go over the various discoveries made throughout this reading; revolutionary tenderness, emotional labor as implicit, the textual and embodied relationship with encounter, subjectivity, self awareness and introspection. It is the simultaneous relationship of the practical and poetic that create the queer poetics of this tarot reading. It is the momentum of the circle drawn, the newly constructed container. It is the path we have been lead down with each card pulled and read. This action of making meaning, of empowerment, of taking care, of valuing emotional intelligence and intuition that by valuing this emotional labor we are putting to death some of the internal binds within us. It has set the task of a queer poetics to constantly re-evaluate and reconfigure, to speak up and out, to survive.