Words from a second-hand heart
J.L. Shenstone writes poetry, short stories, novels and scripts.
Words from a second-hand heart is a collection of poems and short stories by J.L. Shenstone. For anyone who has ever loved, for anyone who has ever wanted to be an artist, for anyone who has reached and missed for a heart, a sentence, the right words, the right time. This is for you.
I tell her I like her drawings. I watch and when she is finished I pick up the paper by the edges and stick Blu-tak to the back and press the corners against the wall. I spend days staring at them, wondering what the emphasis on certain areas of the body could mean, the pencil pressed harder in places. I pose for her, but only once, and we lose the picture when we move. I miss looking at it and wonder if that makes me nostalgic or just egotistical.
We walk through galleries of contemporary art and leave with a feeling of something missing, as if the art had reached out and taken something from us. We go to an Impressionist exhibition. The paint is heavy with emotion, nothing modern or empty about it. We talk about who we like. Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Dali. I like mood in a painting I tell her. Because no one is around we talk however we like, we can sound vague or pompous or intellectual or arrogant. I like art to punch me in the face, she says.
We watch films and talk through them. I am constantly pausing and rewinding so we don’t miss anything. It could be integral to the plot, I tell her, with my finger on the button again. We talk about actors and directors, scenes and dialogue. She guesses the endings. She sees the metaphor. I see what I’d like to be doing, what I have wanted to do since I was a teenager. I have never grown out of watching too many films and sitting too close to the television and talking too much about a film and remembering too much of the dialogue. I tell her, we need to make a film that means something, that shows something real, it should be about love, but realistic, not Hollywood. She agrees. We come up with ideas but we never write them down. We talk as if we have already written the script. We say, we should put that in our movie, or, our movie won’t have that in it.
We read books at the same time. Sometimes we share a book. She won’t finish a book that is getting her nowhere. I will read the whole thing and hope for one line that will stand out and last. She likes women writers and I am slightly embarrassed that most of my favourite writers are men, and not only that, they are infamously misogynist. But the women on my shelf make up for it, they are powerful, I want to be them. We don’t go to bookstores with brand new books and shiny covers. We go hunting. We find cheap books with stained pages. It feels better to bend the cover and wonder how many eyes and hands have felt the page. Our nightstand is covered in books; we have to rest our drinks on top of them.