Introducing: The Peralta Poetry Minute

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Skyler Ilenstine earned his BA in English Lit and Media Studies from UC Berkeley and currently works in education.  Recently, he’s attempted to craft video art, pairing music with video and poetry.  In his spare time, when not reading books by Mark Leyner, Tom McCarthy and Ben Marcus, he likes to get lost in the woods of Joaquin Miller Park.

English 10A at College of Alameda was Skyler’s first class in Creative Writing.  

In this poem, “Excuses,” Skyler wanted “to explore all the ways we try to pass off blame for behaviors we notice in ourselves that we dislike... [the] knee-jerk reaction when something goes wrong or we don’t react well… to try and understand the situation as something that we had no power over and thus no responsibility for.”

See more of Skyler's work at


A dog barked at my pregnant mom
I’m told it shows in the way I hold myself
Love me or hate me, blame it on the pit bull 

My dad got blamed for a forest fire
Now my last name burns on the tongue
Generational trauma, and no one’s dead

I slip on orange lenses at sunset
maybe I’ll sleep soundly tonight
All they do is reflect

I cut my hand opening a pill bottle
My ghost drains out with each fresh drop of blood
My shadow no longer trembles

As a kid, I wanted no part in the world
Magic words would melt reality
Now I do the same with pens and metaphors