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Larry Griggs at Booker’s Place. Greenwood, MS.


In Jim Crow Mississippi, speaking out cost a black waiter his job. Now he is immortalized in poetry and song.

Ed Harris (as Dr. Bill Perch) and Amy Madigan (as Susan Perch) in The Jacksonian, which premiered in February 2012, at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, directed by Robert Falls. (All photographs by Michael Lamont)

The Jacksonian

CHARACTERS(In order of appearance)BILL PERCH, a dentist and motel resident ROSY PERCH, daughter of Bill and Susan Perch EVA WHITE, a waitress and motel maidFRED WEBER, a motel bartenderSUSAN PERCH, wife of Bill Perch, mother of Rosy SE [...]


He has the surname that suggests
a contested kinship: Jefferson—


Somewhere in the post-Katrina wreckage and disarray of my grandmother’s house, there is a photograph of my brother Joe and me, our arms around each other’s shoulders. We are at a long-gone nightclub in Gulfport, the Terrace Lounge, standing before the photographer’s airbrushed scrim—a border of dice and playing cards around us. Just above our heads the words HIGH ROLLERS, in cursive, embellished—if I am remembering this right—with tiny starbursts. 


This week they are painting
the North Gulfport water tower.


At first, there was nothing to do but watch.
For days, before the trucks arrived, before the work
of clean-up, my brother sat on the stoop and watched.

Prodigal II

I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—