Colm Tóibín in a review of the poetry and prose of Thom Gunn collected in Love in a Dark Time concludes

[...] we must acknowledge that his talent, his seriousness, his intelligence and his generosity, if they can be separated from it, have been as important as his homosexuality in the making of his poems.

Following these words, it perhaps unfair to characterize Sky Gilbert's contributions to new holes in the wall (York Poetry Workshop, 1975) and much of his oeuvre as being composed under the sign of competition. From that 1975 anthology I take as emblematic the lines from "Men" that assert that men must do battle "And view each other with suspicion" and even sexual intimacy is a site of struggle ("Heaven help us if we were to embrace"). In so many ways all that follows after these early poems is cast in an agonistic style. A perpetual edge. Keen measurement against the oppressor. Assessments always either implied or explicit. There is no end to judgement. All rests in arbitration.

It is not so much that values are enunciated for in any event to present words to the world is to mark and honour as valuable some experience, event or thing. It's the pitch of the take-it-or-leave-it kind that makes me circle back to the keyword "suspicion". It is as if our poet doesn't trust the reader. And yet the petulance is set aside with a joyously juvenile

P.P.P.P.S. I love you.

at the end of the 2003 Temptations For A Juvenile Delinquent.

At our age we are usually in the mode of overhearing and it is an effort to see myself as that "you" (especially in the last line of a poem giving ever more complicated instructions in "How to Take Care of My Cat").

I want to drop out of the competition. But I read on. I even re-read. Aware of other games — the dizziness offered by multiplied post-scriptums. Finding it odd that I can keep up. Remembering that skipping rope and multiplying verbal complexity, piling words upon words, is both a competition and a delirious, delicious, inducement of vertigo. A gone again.

And so for day 658