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I have stared at them over meals,
And in between, for three months now:
A full gallery of American presidents
Assembled–on a paper place mat.
I can tell them apart now in any crowd.
I could greet them on a first-name basis:
George, James, Calvin, and Andrew,
Zachary, Rutherford, and Bill.
Nearly all the early presidents
Would be decidedly unelectable today.
Four of the first eightthe Johns, James, Martin–
Might join the Hair Club For Men.
It was Abe Lincoln who started the fashion
For facial hair. Nine of the next eleven
Had beards, moustaches, or sideburns.
It took Wilson to reverse the trend.
A serious look was de rigueur for presidential
Portraits: there are a few who look grim.
The smiles first appear with Herbert.
After him, they stretch into a grin.
Copyright: M. Shahid Alam.