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Sunday, January 07, 2007


by Alex Cameron

Knowing better than Thomas Jefferson
What fires bear a nation,
What baptismal blaze erupts
Like ten thousand democratic volcanoes
Laying thick, sulfuric ash across the land.

Understanding social order far better
Than he – in his powdered wig
And coattails – ever could,
His brilliance overshadowed by the fear
Of vengeful governments past.

We bear the burden of generations –
The cross of wisdom that ten thousand years
Of philosophy has rendered us
The sweat of workers, the blood of patriots –
Collected in specimen bottles
For all to see.

The experiments of the past,
The baking-soda and vinegar combinations
Of Locke – add Montesquieu,
A hint of Rousseau –
Mold the chemical bonds of democracy.

We should know better than Jefferson
What’s forged in this crucible,
What ways of self-government
Pass through our revolutionary furnace

What ideas are boiled down
What logic precipitates
What concepts form bonds –
Make molecules,
Shape orders of rigid cells
That stand the test of time.

We should know better
What layers of thick, black democracy
We litter, like volcanic ash
Cross continents beyond.

Alex Cameron, a junior at Chatham High School in Chatham, NJ, is managing editor of the school paper and contributing editor of the school literary magazine. This is his first online publication.