Guerrilla Christ by vagabond ©

Guerrilla Christ

Guerrilla Christ by vagabond ©
Guerrilla Christ by vagabond ©

guerrilla christ

i had my doubts like any other man or woman
but i couldn’t let my apathy make me so durable
that i could idly stand aside and watch
the hungry go without fish and bread
the blind continue to stumble
the lame carry the burden

i had my fears like any other man or woman
but i couldn’t let my self preservation
allow me the comfort of cowardice
when they stoned that woman
when they changed money in the temple
when they dared me to heal the withered hand on the sabbath

i had my struggles like any other man or woman
and i resolved them in these waking dreams as i spoke to the crowds
keeping my faith in the humble quiet power of love
unsure of the path as i stumbled in the darkness
tripping into the faintest of light ahead
working out the dream of a new possibility as i spoke with you

and like any other man or woman i want a long life
but not standing by in the acquiescence of selfish longevity
while power is concentrated in the hands of the few
at the expense of the many
while greed nourishes and feeds a garden of oppression
while blood lubricates the machinations of war

and so like any other revolutionary man or woman
i didn’t come to bring peace but came with a machete
to prune the oppression from minds
both yours and my own
to cleave the hatred from hearts
both yours and my own
to hack off the hands of these demons clutching spirit
both yours and my own

and like any other guerrilla fighter man or woman
i paid the price for dreaming such dreams of anarchy
loosed upon the world
crowned with thorns and forced to carry my own cross up a hill
littered with the skulls of the guerrillas that came before me
and hung with nails as an example to the rest of you
sitting passively on the sidelines

and like any other guerrilla christ prophet man or woman
before me and after me i rise again and again and again
and each time the politicians and the merchants
and the high priests conspire
to abort this dream of anarchy that paves the road to equality
while massaging pliable illusions
that condemn these rebellions as failure

and like any other revolution filed and labeled and defined as failure
it will go on and on until we collectively recognize
the guerrilla christ in each of us
to form an army that will liberate the dream of anarchy
upon a center that will not hold
leveling the playing field horizontal
and burying this oppression beneath it
while the meek dance over it bringing heaven down to earth
as their rightful inheritance

- vagabond ©

Shortlink -

1989 Do The Right Thing Party

2nd Hand Tuxedo Tails

1989 Do The Right Thing Party
1989 Do The Right Thing Party

i’m 20 years old… Do The Right Thing is the second movie i will have worked on in my life… i went to the premier in 2nd hand tuxedo tails bought at a thrift shop on East 3rd street between 1st and 2nd Aves called B’s… i wore a T-shirt i made with markers, a pair of shorts, white socks and NaNa creepers… NaNa was store in Soho that used to sell Punk and Rockabilly clothes and shoes… Both B’s and NaNa’s are gone now…

B was Black girl from down south, she found all these great vintage clothes that she bought by the pound from secret locations and sold them in her shop… i would go in there and buy odd bits of clothes… i still have a brown leather vest with no pockets somewhere… B’s was downstairs from the production office of Bailjumper, the third film that i worked on… But they changed the name of the film to Mercury and Retrograde…

It wasn’t really an office it was the director’s apartment… An old tenement building with the bath tub in the kitchen… i met Ishmael Reed on that film, he had a cameo… It was the day that we shot locusts attacking a car… i chased grasshoppers around all day and i remember Ishmael being very patient…

At the premiere for Right Thing i rented a limo with Eddie Joe who was a PA and we pulled up to the red carpet in front of the Zeigfield with my 2nd hand tuxedo tails, hand-made T-shirt, shorts, white socks and NaNa creepers and got out with the paparazzi taking pictures and shouting at me and asking who i was as i got out of the limo… i told them i was the intern and they stopped taking pictures… i smiled because it was just as i had dreamed it…

Wynn Thomas was at the door to the theater having trouble getting in… They said his name wasn’t on the list to get into the premiere… i told them he didn’t need to be on the list, his name was on the poster… Wynn was the production designer…

i waited for my name in the credits… First name under interns… It felt good… i made no money on Right Thing but it changed my life…

i take the limo to the after party at the Puck Building and then tip the driver because i can’t afford more than four hours… Everyone is shocked to see that i can dance… They all thought of me as some punk rocker who wore a red Aunt Jemima handkerchief on my head and wore funky plaid old man shorts with boots… They didn’t know i could get down and cut a rug…

In those daze i was in and out of my mom’s house couch surfing on the Lower East Side… i came home looking for my 2nd hand tuxedo tails but couldn’t find them… My mother said she threw them out… i asked why… She said it was shabby, it had huge holes in it, it was torn it was a mess… i loved those shabby 2nd hand tuxedo tails… they were elegant with satin collar and satin lining… i loved them… shabby holes and all… They were tuxedo tails fit only for an elegant rogue, the only true formal wear for a vagabond…


Machetero Poster Ireland/Puerto Rico Remix by vagabond ©


Machetero Poster Ireland/Puerto Rico Remix by vagabond ©
Machetero Poster Ireland/Puerto Rico Remix by vagabond ©

The historical connections between Ireland and Puerto Rico two island nations fighting imperialism runs deep from Eamon De Valera and Don Pedro Albizu Campos working on the Free Irish State Constitution to the influence of James Connolly on Albizu and the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico to the solidarity of US held Puerto Rican political prisoners of war during Bobby Sands hunger strike in the 1980′s. That spirit of resistance and struggle continued in my film MACHETERO… In 2009 it won Best First Film in the International Film Festival Ireland. it being St. Patricks Day i thought i’d share a few of those moments…

My Acceptance Speech

vagabond and Will Nugentat the awards for the International Film Festival Ireland
vagabond and Will Nugent at the awards for the International Film Festival Ireland

Interview In Ireland

vagabond & Film Festival of Ireland Director Will Nugent just before our radio interview in Ireland with Tipp FM
vagabond & Film Festival of Ireland Director Will Nugent just before our radio interview in Ireland with Tipp FM

Leaving Ireland

i made a lot of really good friends in Ireland. Ronnie and Paul from Scotland, Binda from Wales, Cassi from Los Angeles, Caleb from  Alabama and i met my brother from another mother Wil Nugent… Wil was the director of the festival and we hit it off right away and on the day that i was leaving, just before i was pulling out of Clonmel in Tipperray he sang and dedicated this song to me… i’ve never been so sad to leave a place…

You can watch MACHETERO on Vimeo On Demand on your TV, (X-Box, Apple TV, Playstation) Computer, Tablet and even your phone…


Poeta Julia De Burgos by vagabond

Poet Feminist Independetista

Poeta Julia De Burgos by vagabond ©
Poeta Julia De Burgos by vagabond ©

“I have an urge for freedom. If I die I do not want this tragic nation to swallow my bones. They need the warmth of Borinquen, to at least fortify the worms from over there, not the ones from here.” - Julia De Burgos
(written from New York in a letter to her sister).

Julia De Burgos is considered one of the greatest poets of Latin America, she was also an advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico, an ardent civil rights activist for women, African and Afro-Carribbean people and a vocal critic of any and all political tyranny. She was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on February 17, 1914. Today she would have been 100 years old.

Burgos was raised in a poor section of Carolina called Barrio Santa Cruz. Her family’s poverty did not keep her from developing a love for nature and her nation. At the age of 19, she graduated from the University of Puerto Rico and became a teacher. Her love of literature led her to write poetry and her primary inspiration was her homeland.

In 1936, she joined the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico), which at the time was headed by the Puerto Rican liberationist Pedro Albizu Campos. She published three books of poetry (the third was published after her death) and traveled around the island-nation promoting (and supporting) herself and her art by giving book readings.

In 1939, Burgos traveled first to Cuba and then later to New York City where she lived on and off for the next several years. On July 6, 1953, she collapsed on a sidewalk in El Barrio/East Harlem, NY and later died of pneumonia at a hospital in Harlem at the age of 39. Since her body was not initially identified/claimed by anyone, the city of New York gave her a pauper’s burial on Hart Island, the city’s only Potters field.

Later, some friends were able to find her grave and claim her body. A committee was organized in Puerto Rico, to have her remains transferred to the island-nation. Julia’s remains arrived on September 6, 1953, and she was given a hero’s burial at the Municipal Cemetery of Carolina. A monument was later built at her burial site by the City of Carolina, Puerto Rico. She was and still is Puerto Rico’s poet laureate.

Dylcia reads Julia in a scene from MACHETERO by vagabond ©
Dylcia reads Julia in a scene from MACHETERO by vagabond ©

There’s a very important scene in my film MACHETERO where Dylcia Pagan who plays the part of the Mentor in the film (Dylcia is a former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner and Prisoner of War and a current Puerto Rican National Heroine) reads a poem by Julia De Burgos. In the scene a group of children come running up to Dylcia with a book of Julia’s poems asking her to read something to them… The poem she chooses is Amaneceres (Dawnings). It’s a pivotal scene in the film because the lead character Pedro Taino (played by Not4Prophet of the Puerto Rican Punk band RICANSTRUCTION and Hip-Hop group X-Vandals) writes a manual on how to be a Machetero called The Anti-manifesto. The Anti-manifesto is a series of poetic writings that are featured throughout the film. The poetry reading scene takes place in the final third of the film and helps to illuminate how this character Pedro Taino who doesn’t even have a High School Diploma can write so well.

This poetry reading scene is presented within the overall film to be a kind of dreamlike flashback to Pedro’s childhood. The idea is that one of the children in the group that Dylcia (the Mentor) is reading to, is Pedro. The poem itself is about transformation. The transformation of self and society which is what the film is also about. Pedro Taino transforms himself from victim of colonialism to combatant to colonialism. The Young Rebel (played by Kelvin Fernandez) transforms himself from victim of colonialism to combatant against colonialism. Both of these characters are transforming themselves and in doing so are transforming society as well.

Before we left for Puerto Rico Not4Prophet came up with the idea for this poetry reading scene. He felt that it would give an understanding as to how the Pedro Taino character was encouraged to educate himself. It also gave Pedro’s character an appreciation of poetry and writing that would not otherwise be expected in him and this gave his character an added layer to his dimensionality. While we were in Puerto Rico we didn’t know exactly how we were going to portray this scene, (we improvised a lot on this film). We knew how the other crucial scene with Dylcia would play out but we didn’t know how the poetry scene would develop.

Yasmin Hernandez (Yaz) a talented Puerto Rican painter came with us to Puerto Rico to help with the shoot. Yaz is a good friend of mine and had been following MACHETERO’s development as we were in the process of creating the film. She was reading a compilation of Julia De Burgos poems called Songs Of The Simple Truth and she came across the poem Amanecers (Dawnings). It was a truly perfect fit.

When we shot the scene the next day i used my nephew and niece who also came down with us to Puerto Rico but more to enjoy the beauty of the island than to work on the film. However when i asked them if they wanted to do it they were excited and we improvised the scene as we shot it…

Another part of this scene that’s important to highlight comes from the old African adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Dylcia’s role to these children is deliberately kept ambiguous. She is mother, aunt, grandmother, neighbor, teacher to these children. Even her role in the credit is referred to as The Mentor, because a mentor can be a mother, aunt, grandmother, neighbor or teacher. In the African tradition these roles may be interchangeable to a child living within the community but the one constant that remains is the mentorship. In the other scene that Dylcia is in she’s imparting the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico (unfortunately this history is not exclusive to Puerto Rico but extends to Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc…) and she does this using the oral tradition which is also an African trait. The reading of Julia De Burgos and the reading of this poem to the children combined with Dylcia’s other scene in the film come together to create a portrait of a woman who is creating warriors for freedom. It’s a scene that puts the struggle for our freedom (Puerto Rico and beyond…) into a multi-generational light.

The fact that Dylcia is the one who is imparting this history and this culture to these children in this scene in this film only added a special kind of  gravitas to the film. Dylcia Pagan is a warrior and a freedom fighter who served 20 years in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto RIco from the yoke of US colonialism. She is a Puerto Rican National Heroine and of course she has always related to Julia De Burgos.

by Julia De Burgos

Dawning in my soul!
Dawnings in my mind!

When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

To gather the hour that passes trembling at our side
and make it now,
and make it robust,
and make it universal.

 And let it sing
and let it scream;
and let it penetrate in all anonymous corners
awakening rebellions;
and let it sweep the face of the eternal hunchback of time
sick of not thinking;
and let it hang all the songs of the bourgeois ways
and break its seconds into a million proletarian hymns

Dawning in my soul!
Dawnings in my mind!
When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

There inside,
deep inside,
to approach life
To see…
To listen…
To smell…
To taste…
And touch…

And in the earth…
perpendicular over his own life.
Man earth
made in two violent dimensions.
The common dimension:
five senses,
and one body and one mind.
The whole man. Him.

The other,
the social dimension;
Man bourgeoisfied
of body,
of mind,
of energy.
Man derailed
fleeing ferociously from himself.

That bourgeois man
must be destroyed,
at the present time,
in the robust hour,
in the universal hour.
The world awakens!

When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

from Songs Of The Simple Truth (translation by Jack Agueros)

To download a PDF mini pamphlet about Julia de Burgos along with a bilingual version of her poem September 23rd suitable for printing and passing out to people click here



Respectable Criminals


this is the last money on the longshot
the math is designed to work towards someone else’s favor
like pawnshop lottery tickets
like that tip on a horse that lost by a nose
like the house always wins
the long odds stacked up like riot cops
when everyone realizes the same thing at the same time
the long odds stacked up like bars in a cell
when everyone realizes the same thing at the same time
the long odds stacked to the ceiling with the money they taxed you
to bail out banksters
to bail out white collar criminals who never broke a sweat
to steal what you sweat for

i have more respect for bank robbers
there’s risk there
there’s the tight rope walk of getting away with a few dollars
or taking the da’s plea offer for no trial and less time
while the respectable criminals with manicured hands
shuffle numbers on a sheet
as suddenly they turn your house upside down
and shake you out of what they’ll never live in
turn your world upside down like a snow globe
turn it right side up for themselves
as the snow falls on you and yours with the first winter winds coming

i have more respect for blue collar criminals
stick-up men who prowl the streets trying to steady their nerves
so the gun doesn’t go off in a murder rap
there’s risk there
at least you can look them in the eye
when they take your last twenty and the maxed out credit cards
at least it feels real when you look them in the eye
it’s not the surreal intangibility of a last notice in the mail
it’s not the surreal intangibility of a foreclosure notice
it’s not the surreal intangibility of a pink slip
and an escort out of the building
a blue collar stick-up man is tangible
it’s visceral and you can see the fear

this white collar crime will drive you insane
if you had a semi-automatic who would you shoot
who could you hold responsible
why are the real targets so out of reach
more math designed to work towards someone else’s favor
change the formula and make the math work for you
instead of against you
take 15 bullets with you and load the magazine
if you could only get over the 12 foot country club fence
as 3 bank ceo’s finished the 18th hole
you could put 1 bullet in each of their heads
and 1 bullet where each of their hearts would be
you’d still have 9 shots left
as an example to the rest of them
that now no 1 is safe now

this is the last money on the longshot
you could offer these banksters an ultimatum
a life behind bars or a ceo killing spree
you’ll get to smile like the folk hero outlaw
they’ll write songs and poems about
you get the last laugh as the other ceo’s of the other banks
beef up security in an effort to protect themselves
from the idea of justice you put into the world
if you had killed yourself there would have been no satisfaction
at least now you can go to your death knowing
you pulled some evil from the root
to wither and dry in the sun

- vagabond


A Last Poet, an X-Vandal and a vagabond by vagabond ©

A Last Poet, An X-Vandal And A Vagabond

A Last Poet, an X-Vandal and a vagabond by vagabond ©
A Last Poet, an X-Vandal and a vagabond – by vagabond ©

A Last Poet, an X-Vandal and a vagabond walk into a bar… it sounds like a joke but like Puerto Rican revolutionary Lolita Lebron said “this poetry is serious business”. On February 9th up and coming publishing powerhouse 2Leaf Press has joined forces with the NYC poetry pushers Bowery Poetry Club to bring you a historic event… In celebration of original Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole’s soon to be released book of poetry, (his first in a very, very, long time) Branches Of The Tree Of Life: The Collected Poems Of Abiodun Oyewole, 2Leaf Press is throwing a party…

Branches Of The Tree Of Life - cover by vagabond ©
Branches Of The Tree Of Life – cover by vagabond ©

And if that weren’t enough excitement, 2leaf Press is also celebrating the recently released poetry collection of X-Vandal, Not4prophet with his book Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts with graphics by yours truly… i’ll also be showcasing some of the poetry videos that i’ve been creating for 2Leaf Press…

Last Of The Po'Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts cover by vagabond ©
Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts cover by vagabond ©

This is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing series of events between 2Leaf Press and the Bowery Poetry Club where 2Leaf Press will extend it’s mission to celebrate diverse voices in contemporary literature… For more information on the event check out the event page on Bowery Arts & Sciences

2LeafPress Logo


Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand

2013 MACHETERO Released

Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand
Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand

“I love the cinema passionately enough not to remain a spectator.”
- Francois Truffaut

As part of my looking back on my artistic accomplishments for 2013 the year marked 11 years after the script for MACHETERO was written, 7 years after i started shooting, 5 years after i finished shooting and 5 years after we won the first of six international awards. It also marked the DIY theatrical release of the film. From June 12th through the 19th i rented a small 55 seat theater with a video projector on the Lower East Side of NYC at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center and screened MACHETERO three times a day on weekdays and 5 times a day on weekends. The plan was to garner critical attention to a film that spoke about US colonialism in Puerto Rico that critics might champion, to encourage audiences to  see, so that a much-needed dialogue about US colonialism in Puerto Rico could be had.

i take my DIY seriously, i promoted the film both online and on the streets, sold tickets, popcorn, soda, Cracker Jacks, T-shirts and CD’s, ran the projector, introduced the film and answered questions afterwards. It was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done and it pushed me to my limits. It was a painful uphill battle. Financially i just barely broke even – that is if you don’t count the hundreds of hours of work i put in. i know that admitting to this kind of failure is not a smart thing for someone to do in this business but filmmaking has never been a business for me. Years ago i thought i had chosen to make films but i was wrong, i didn’t choose to make films, filmmaking chose me… i’m not making films for Hollywood, i make films because i have a question that only making a film can answer, so the rules of the Hollywood game don’t apply to me…

The process of a DIY theatrical release was an experiment in separating the wheat from the chaff. It was a means of discovering what filmmaking was for me. It was an attempt to rewrite the rules so that they worked for me rather than against me. On a certain level that attempt failed and on another level it was a resounding success. It failed in terms of trying to garner the critical attention needed for a film like MACHETERO to garner an audience. The film critics i tried courting on Twitter and on Facebook didn’t show any interest in reviewing the film. There was not much of an audience and so there wasn’t much of a discussion on the colonial relationship that the US has had with Puerto Rico for 115 years now. On that front, it failed miserably.

On another level the film succeeded as a means of open political and artistic defiance. A film as outspoken as MACHETERO was never going to be distributed theatrically or otherwise in the US. There are many American films that are critical or call for reform but very few that are anti-American. i have no fear or apprehension in saying that MACHETERO is an anti-American film. US colonialism in Puerto Rico is a distinctly American phenomena and i am openly and unapologetically opposed to it. While it’s true that the first amendment allows you to express those kinds of views in America it doesn’t mean that anyone has to pay attention, it doesn’t mean anyone has to watch or listen to anything you have to say. The radical voice of MACHETERO wasn’t going to be given a chance to be heard within the Hollywood distribution game or the so-called independent alternative distributors. Even if there were a distributor bold enough to take the film on i highly doubt that they would handle the marketing and promotion of the film in a way that would have insured the film’s success. i would have been left alone to do everything i did in terms of a DIY release only now with the added burden of a partner that didn’t know how to pull its own weight.

As someone who wholeheartedly believes in the independence of Puerto Rico and as a filmmaker i wanted my film MACHETERO to start a conversation about US colonialism in Puerto Rico even if it meant releasing the film on my own. What other alternative was there? And so i released it knowing that there the odds were slimmer than slim in finding even a kernel of success. Knowing that the endeavor might destroy the 23 years relationship i’ve managed to have with my girlfriend. Knowing that being ignored by the critics and the machinery was all but guaranteed. Knowing that no one really cares about US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Despite all that, i did it anyway.

i knew that not taking the risk of releasing theatrically was a greater failure. i knew that the regret of not taking the risk was and always is greater than the regret of taking the risk. In that respect the act of releasing MACHETERO in a DIY Stylee {sic} is an act of political and artistic defiance. The world may not want to hear about MACHETERO and US colonialism in Puerto Rico but that doesn’t mean silence is an option… Hollywood has a way of mystifying the filmmaking process so that only a select few should make films and an even fewer number of those films that are made should be seen… By all accounts MACHETERO should never have been made or released theatrically, by all accounts, except mine… Che Guevara once said “The guerrilla wins by not losing” and in that respect the DIY release of MACHETERO was an overwhelming success that i could be proud of…

On September 23rd, a national Puerto Rican holiday celebrating a rebellion against Spanish colonial rule, MACHETERO was released on Vimeo On Demand and you can watch it on your TV, Computer, Tablet or Phone…


Abiodun in repose by vagabond ©

2013 On The Books

Papoleto Take One by vagabond
Papoleto Take One by vagabond

At the end of 2012 i was shooting a documentary on original Nuyorican Poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez. His book Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry had just been published by 2Leaf Press and after speaking with the publisher Gabrielle David i offered to take some of the footage i shot and cut it into a book video to promote the book.

i liked what 2Leaf Press was doing and i wanted to help them in any way that i could, so i started doing book videos for their other authors. The book videos led to photo shoots and book covers. A lot of great things are on the horizon for 2Leaf Press. i also did some book covers for a few other friends who were publishing books. So this the work that i did for 2013 that’s on the books…





This series of images were taken the night that Nelson Mandela died. i was shooting the book video for Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole’s new book to be published by 2Leaf Press The Branches Of The Tree Of Life. As we were shooting the video on 125th Street in front of the Apollo word came down that Nelson Mandela has passed away.


This gallery is of the work graphics i did for Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts a book Not4Prophet and i collaborated on published by 2Leaf Press. The graphics are based on his poems. i also designed a logo for 2Leaf Press for their Nuyorican World Series of books they will be publishing in the future. Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts is the first book to utilize the logo…


These photographs are publicity photos i took of Nuyorican Poet Samuel Diaz who has a book of poems coming out this year from 2Leaf Press. These were taken while i was shooting the book video in the Bronx where Sam has lived for the past 40 years. The title of his book is Our Nuyorican Thing. Keep your ear to the street for it.


A series of photos from the book video i produced and directed for poet Tony Medina’s latest offering Broke Baroque published by 2Leaf Press.


These are book covers i designed this year… The first book cover i shot and designed i was for former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. Her book Guided By Love comes out next year and is published by 2Leaf Press. The next book cover i shot and designed was for Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole’s new book Branches Of The Tree Of Life which is also due out next year. Scars/Stars is for poet Walidah Imarisha which recently sold out at Powell’s bookstore (the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi) in Portland Oregon. The collaborative book with poems by Not4Prophet and graphics i did Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otros Afro-artifacts is a design i did based on a still image from the book video shot by Jeff “AK”. Roots Reality & Rhyme is a cover i did for poet Turiya Autry whose book will be out this month…


less than ideal art and ideas for a less than ideal world…


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