To eat a shark you must—and everyone knows this—first empty its stomach of license plates. It can’t reach climax with a belly full of metal.

I saw two Vietnamese restaurateurs pulling enormous catfish out of the Mississippi River and piling them in a shallow recess on the bank where they muscled over one another dying for a breath. The fish were longer than the men’s arms and colored a dull silver-brown. From where I stood with my bike at the top of the levee, I could see the old sugar factory, hulking and decrepit, filling the sky with sweet black smoke.

This area of the city, in St. Bernard Parish, just downriver from the Lower Ninth Ward, was inextricably altered by the flood. A nerdy girl I work with—mousy, thin, shy, dry brown hair, 30 years old and living with her parents—evacuated from here to Texas, where she and her family slept on the floor of a church for two weeks. After they returned, she and her parents and sister rented a two-bedroom apartment in Metarie where the four of them fought over one bathroom for a year and moved back into their house just in time for the money to run out. It’s easy to scan a streetful of unassuming people in New Orleans and think to yourself, “You’ve been through more than I have, you’ve been through more than I have, you’ve been through more than I have, you’ve been through more than I have …”

The clarity of water some sharks swim through is nearly blinding. The catfish don’t have this problem. One could almost consider them Midwestern, since the gunk they swim through is largely chunks of Minnesota and Missouri. Sharks have impeccable eyesight, and often spot their next mate from leagues away. The oil seeping into the Gulf of Mexico is troubling because it will prevent shark sex. Obviously, this will result in the extinction of shark porn on the Internet—a significant loss.

The oil companies have been draining the earth’s testicles, making them ache. Since the earth lacks a mighty phallus with which it could attack or at least defend itself—something, for misogynistic reasons, I would expect a planet to have—it must depend upon a slow secretion to inflict harm upon its enemies. Its ejaculation—fittingly, since it is our Mother and therefore female—is not the spurting mess of a man, but, in scale, more like the emerging wetness of an aroused vagina. Unfortunately, the earth is capable of multiple orgasms and will likely not be spent until the water that covers her is black with her secretion, and it evaporates into the air, travels across land in the clouds and rains gray death onto our crops and cattle. The purest parts of our citizenry will go crazy searching for cracks in the ground they expect to open and swallow them like sperm. I will be in the back of a bar somewhere setting a circle of tires on fire, dancing with the sharks and chanting, “We will never die.”

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