How do you know...?

How do you know
That you’ll make a good friend,
When the world is full
Of lousy people?

How do you know
You won’t let anyone down,
When tomorrow is always
Something unknown?

How do you know
You won’t hurt someone
And lose a good friend
When not even you
Know your heart?

How can you tell
If you’re as good
As other people say,
Or if you’re the one who’s right
And you’re as lousy as they come?

How can you
Be so sure
That you won’t mess things up,
When not even you know
The inside of your heart?

Everything you try to do
Can make things even worse,
How do you know you’ll do well
Or just ruin everything?

How do you know if you really have
The ability to care,
If you can’t even
Walk out and feel alive?

How can you
Be so sure
That you’ll make a trusted friend
If your head is a mess
And your heart wants to give up?

The painful truth is,
You don’t really know,
And so you may well
Do more harm than good.

How are you sure
That you can
Always keep going,
When your world crumbles
And your heart bleeds?

It takes a lot of pain,
Hope and a bit of craziness
To keep walking the long road
Without ever giving up.

The only way you’ll know
If you’re good enough
Is by proving yourself
That you’re worth something after all.

But is that path easy?
Of course it’s not.
One wrong move,
And you can lose everything.

And so, the only way you’ll know
If life will smile on you
Is to grab it by the neck,
Seize the day and live it fully.

If you can endure the pain,
Grit your teeth and keep going,
Things will reach a point
When they won’t get worse.

Maybe if you’re brave enough,
Life will smile on you,
But doubt and regret are always there,
And you need to deal with them.

I must admit that I do not care for this poem very much. This is largely because it does not make use of any real poetic device, save for perhaps allusion to the carpe diem theme to a degree. Despite that, it does not express any new dimension to that theme, but merely reiterates it in a basic form. In all honesty, I could have read this as a piece of prose, such as a journal entry, finishing with virtually the same understanding as I acquired from reading it as poetry. Furthermore, having read poems which violently echo the same theme, I did find it quite boring to read.

Even if your use of free verse and awkward line-breaking and enjambment does imply stuttering thoughts which you are attempting to organise into systematic thoughts (represented by the relatively regular stanzaic structure), I think it is not clear enough to the reader.

If you want to improve this poem, you should allow the structure to portray your thoughts and emotions more clearly. Do not simply force thoughts into stanzas, but organise the structure so that it caters more tightly to your patterns of thought and different voices in yourself. Also, I recommend using at least some simple devices, such as metaphors, similes, allusions or apostrophes, to add another level of depth in meaning to your writing. You may also want to employ

This poem has potential. You could turn it into a violent debate between two aspects of yourself, and use the structure to characterise each aspect and shifts in tone and emotion as they argue. You could organise as it, for instance, as a rhetorical debate and make use of traditional rhetorical devices to flavour your verses. This need not employ any sophisticated language, but at least some simple strategies of argument. (If you like this idea, either do a little research into rhetoric or ask someone who knows about it; I think that Demigod is taking a course in rhetoric and logic at the moment…).

Nevertheless, if this is your true poetic voice, then you have the right to exercise it.

In terms of content this poem is one of the best I’ve read on here. Something about it resonates with me. As far as technique, well, I don’t know a lot about the techniques of writing poems. I know enough not to write off technique, since a lot of artsy types write poetry that sucks because they don’t know what they’re doing. But I think in this case the poem has a lot of feeling and shouldn’t been written off as just another angsty teen poem.