With all my heart and fairly,
Did I offer sweet surprise-
A birthday present early,
An art drawn near sunrise
All night working perfection,
I had gotten the shading right
With the shadow and reflection-
A suave leopard napping tight
He vowed I’d forget him some day
Though little did he know,
A month before my dear’s birthday,
His gift was ready to go
As time went by and quickly,
Fine colors met dark shades
His affections died so swiftly
And he erased the luster away
For the suave leopard in me slept
As long as his heart did rage
My gift through tears had crept
On the perfection of the page
Happy Birthday to you dear,
My present waits to be sent
I will cease these useless tears
For my love is time well spent
Copyright © Laura Breidenthal
Dear brother you were only 22
when the good Lord came calling for you
Water had consumed your last breath
Coroners said was a flashback from heroin and meth
I had always looked up to you
but your verbal abuse made me and the others feel blue
black hair hazel eyes man you look so like Elvis
imitating shaking your hips and pelvis
blisters and sores on your young pale face
oh boy how you had fallen from Gods grace
you had a little girl right after you died
Mom always stood by her and your girlfriend's side
first Grandpa then you Dad Mom and brother Bob
for my life now feels like I've been robbed
missed over 30 yrs of wishing you birthday greetings
now at the dinner table there is limited seating
but every year when your birthday comes and passes
I will be there to pick your grave site overgrown grasses
I wonder what you would look like today
or even if your hair would be full of grey
I have forgiven for all you had done to me
for I hold no regrets so your soul can be free
heres wishing you another birthday greeting
as I lay this card and rose at your grave site's seating
Please give Grandpa Dad Mom and brother Bob my love
for someday I will reunited with all of you above
For now I have my own little girl
for she is my own everyday world
I promise to tell her all about you
and how God will turn you into someone pure and new
Rest in peace my loving dear brother
heres another birthday wish I send in passion smothers
In Loving Memory Of
My Brother Gary
10/ 18/ 48
6 / 5 / 71
Copyright © Katherine Stella
It’s just way too stressful to celebrate,
The birthday of the Prince of Peace.
Rushing and yelling and last-minute lists,
Make our headaches and blood pressure increase.
Too much to get done, and so darned little time,
With decorating, and cooking, and calls on the phone.
The children have grown quiet, with an occasional tear,
With all of these people, why do I feel so alone?
Trees and decorations are pretty, of course,
And all the food is so yummy too.
I like getting presents, and I’m thankful, of course,
But what I am craving right now is just you.
Standing outside, in the new fallen snow,
Hidden from eyes just too busy to see,
Is a man with old scars, but a face filled with love,
Who once had been a Gift on a tree.
He longed to be asked in, and show them His love,
With His presence as His most precious gift.
Gently, He knocks on the door of each heart,
Wanting so much to hear the door latch lift.
Do we ignore those who matter the most,
In our mad rush to accumulate more presents?
Do we lose the precious chance to love,
Which comes from cherishing their presence?
Copyright © Michael Spangle
Living my life on the Dole*,
Because my Mum told me so,
Interview at ‘McDonalds’, but that Tyrant told me "No!",
See, we're a family with pride,
Don't sell fries at super-size,
But where's the pride,
If I can't provide,
For my own style of life,
Spent my money from the *Brew,
On Irn-Bru**, I swear that’s true,
Dreary, damp & cold, This black hole, I call home,
Only 'joy' I get in life’s the 'stick' I use for X-BOX,
And I aint got a tumble dryer so I step with wet socks,
Work-shy, but money-hungry,
Flats cramp-sized & pretty ugly,
Until I woke up and realised that no-one loves me.
Brain melts to slush, in this non-testing occasion,
‘Gain Work’ is a must, for a teenage Caucasian,
Nothing separating me,
From drug-addled Dads of three,
Just giro day,
No jobs… great,
Keep trying mate,
No end in sight as unemployment rises,
Government gives you cash like they were handing out prizes,
Where’s my reason to go out & work? My motivation,
Its pleasing no-one now, this escalated situation,
Experience is something that you earn, not that you’re born with,
Inexperienced forever, if I don’t get employed quick,
I don't enjoy sitting on my broken couch for hours,
I'm your Friend with Benefits, can only wash with cold showers.
(*Common British phrases for Jobcentre or Jobseekers Allowance Benefit)
(**Famous Scottish soft drink mass produced around Britain)
Copyright © Craig Scott
Today is my birthday
On this day please don’t stay
Sorrow please go away
My hairs are turning gray
Love is life people say
I want love come what may
I want to see hope’s ray
God make me smile I pray
Copyright © Asif Andalib
It’s My Birthday
It’s my birthday… I look out the window there is no one for me owe so, owe so lonely poor me .
It’s my birthday… you surprise me, with a Barber-Q grill with a cooler that chills with a grin we show white grills.
Happy Birthday… it’s my Birthday I am still waiting, it is almost the end of my the day, just waiting on you to wish me a happy birthday which, well make my day.
It’s my birthday…you do not remember that day, can we go out for we can remember that day?
It’s my birthday… I can share it or alone, some share it with a twin, or with a friend and the ones who stay to the ends like a good friend.
It my birthday… its looks like another day to me I just need someone or something to comfort with me a room full of women and with hand full men, a juice in cup, juice in glass, with a sweet lady and grill on cut grass that may make every day feel like my birthday, with a touch of class.
It’s your birthday… it’s your birthday you should all-ways win on your birthday, if do not have a mate you sneak and go on second party date form those who may player hate.
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday! it comes and go, I see you come through, looking out my window with a hand full company that is what a party really should need, yes it’s sweet, sweet with music and sweet with treats or it must be the money, or food, or brinks, or just me.
Poetry 7/7/12 by author Keith Kadell
Copyright © Keith Relf
(Dedicated to Danielle Bryant)
It's your special day
And I have so much to say.
Oh that time will let me,
There are thousands of things to make you see:
The happy times,
Lengthening with the clock's chimes;
The beautiful talks we exchanged,
Never believing there could be a change;
The midnight conversations,
Smiles on our faces our only compensation;
Our dreams and hopes,
The only reason we could cope.
Those moments we spent together
Are memories I'll cherish forever;
Memories I can look at and smile,
Knowing they are reasons to aim high.
Oh if I could do more than just words
And not pull memory chords!
It's your special day
And my own very special way
Of wishing a happy birthday
To a friend who just walked away.
Copyright © King Samuel Benson
Happy Birthday to me,
Another year of misery,
Smiling too wide as I say
Happy Birthday to me.
Copyright © Sarah Jones
I sit on the floor and wait from dusk to dawn, for a new day will soon be reborn. I count all
the blooming flowers, and count down the long hours, while mum takes her shower.
Today's the day, for it's my birthday. I hope I get A car, or A guitar or maybe even become
A movie star, but that's asking A bit too much of me. I walk around singing out A loud,
acting proud feeling as if my heads in A cloud. To my surprise I start stumbling over my
words and begin mumbling. Maybe mum just forgot about me, or are they just hiding the
presents from me? I walk through the hall, with my head dragging looking at the floor,
and go to bed with my heart feeling torn. It's getting late and I can no longer wait. I turn
off my light, and close my eyes and cry having so much things go through my mind. I
drift to sleep but then I see, mum walking in my room in the middle of the night with A
light. It's so bright. She raises my heart like A kite, taking of it flight and she says, good
night, and turns of the lights. She raised my hopes high and then shot them out of the
sky. I break down and cry, it feels as if I've just died. No one remembered why today was
A special day for it was my birthday. I look at the sky and wonder why? I light my candle
and close my eyes, tears dripping down onto my thighs, and I start to whisper in my
mind. "I don't want A car, or even A guitar. I don't even want to become A movie star. I
just want to be free of this disease called poverty, I just want people to stop running away
from me. Free me of aids so I can stop feeling afraid. Stop me from being poor, so I can
afford to stop sleeping on the floor. Make me smile for there is no reason to smile, but
please make my life worth while. Take me away from Africa, for all I see is people being
raped and all the kids hearts filled with hate, I'm loosing my faith for I am living each day
even though there is nothing to live for". A Tear drops on my candle, And puts out the
flame I whisper in pain,This is "My Birthday Wish"
We wish for luxuries that only money can afford. They wish for water for they are poor.
People need to learn to smile, for kids living in poverty have A legitimate reason not too.
Be happy for what we have, and never complain for what we don't have.
- Wiko Te Maru
Copyright © Wiko Te Maru
I do not know?
Happy Birthday Marie, 100,
splashed across the evening news.
Replete with colour photograph,
seen wearing another girls shoes.
Happy Birthday Marie, not knowing.
In meltdown, fused in your chair.
Your family, they loved the Queen's telegram,
and look there's the Deputy Mayor!
Happy Birthday Marie, not hearing.
The paper describes you past tense.
Dream of the cat that sits on your lap,
as none of this makes any sense.
Happy Birthday Marie, dementia.
Alone, with your family round,
long suffering daughter bears crucifixed grin,
she's aware you are already drowned.
Copyright © Gavin Lockey
I didn't say, "Don't do it," but I never knew it was on your mind.
I didn't say, "Things will be OK, even though the world is not often kind,"
and I never said, "What's the matter? What has gotten you to feel this way?"
Now you're gone and all I'm left with are the things I didn't say.
I didn't say, "I'm here for you." I always thought that was understood.
With every thing that we'd been through,
why wouldn't I be there for you like I should?
I never said life was easy. No one could ever make such a claim.
Now the things we didn't say haunt the better part of our days.
Now mostly sad memories of you remain.
Ironically now I must ask you this and I don't mean it to sound like a joke
but, could it have killed you to take a few more extra moments
and maybe leave your loved ones a note?
You left too many questions unanswered. You left your loved ones heartbroken,
lost in total dismay.
Your last day will now and always be remembered as such,
The Birthday of Things We Didn't Say.
My good friend Sonny did not naturally die.
My good friend Sonny committed suicide.
I don't judge such choices made by others anymore.
It's an individual's unalienable right to choose how to exit life's door.
What they don't have the right to do is to leave unfinished business behind.
It's their loved ones who suffer afterward struggling to find peace of mind.
One moment you were with us all and everything seemed fine.
Next you were found hanging from your ceiling wearing a neck tie of twine.
I'm not saying this lightly Sonny, that was no way to say good bye.
It's very sad but true, I rarely have fond memories of you.
I only remember how you chose to die,
and I'll never stop asking "Why?"
Copyright © SillyBilly theKidster
puttin' that ring on my finger was clever, i’ll admit it,
'cause every time i look down, i can't forget it,
and lately i've been lookin down a lot,
all the times on the phone that we fought,
feelin' like you forgot, those two years,
now they're just brain smears, blank tears,
can't seem to get my words through your ears,
and today it’s 24 years that you've been livin',
i just want you to know, that everything is forgiven,
i just miss you, you're the only person i ever had to get to,
that point with, where no matter what happens,
for each other, we’ll always care, always be there,
and every time i look up in the sky and see a star, and stare,
know it's still you i think about while i'm standin' there,
you're like my air, i breathe you, i need you,
because what we share is like nothin' i ever knew,
and don't think for one second i don't care about you
you're the only star i see when i look up in the air, you.
Copyright © Erin Evans
Thinking today what we would have done
if for a reason that you hadn`t gone
and left your friends and family with a space
in our hearts and lives,it`s etched on our face.
But your qualitys will never ever be forgotten
funny,wit,caring yet missing you rotten
well my friend,although you`re above
i will wrap this off n send it with love.
R.I.P ANO X
Copyright © Paul Beadnall
"Imagine a lovely garden, tea for two and this story"....A Rambling Poet
Just nine years old but she had a dream
of serving others, of doing good.
Adults were failing, but this young girl
decided to do everything she could.
Her birthday was coming, she had a plan.
She asked her mama, who soon agreed.
No gifts wanted by birthday girl,
but rather money for world in need.
She’d heard of the children in Africa
with no fresh water to cool their thirst.
She wanted to cure all of their ills
and need for water would be the first.
Three hundred dollars she set as a goal,
which she almost reached by her birthday.
She didn’t give up, she would find the rest.
She must have three hundred to send away.
There are other children who’ve done the same,
given up their gifts for the water cause,
but Rachel’s story is quite unique
which I’ll tell you now, but I must pause
To steady my hands to pour the tea
and to wipe away this unwanted tear.
More of her story I’ll tell you now.
New twists and turns will soon appear.
Rachel was traveling with her mom,
on some good deed, I have no doubt.
A car pile up and a child was hurt.
That ‘s what this tale is all about.
Rachel died, but ere she did
she begged her mommy to finish her dream,
to get the money to Africa,
so they needn’t drink from polluted stream.
Over a million dollars raised
by tender souls who have heard her plea.
The money just keeps pouring in
from simple folks like you and me.
“A little child shall lead them”.
Dear, sweet Rachel was one of those.
She put the needs of others above
desire for birthday toys and clothes.
By: Joyce Johnson
August 16, 2011
For Constance's contest "I fancy another sad poem" Won no. 3
Copyright © Joyce Johnson
I do not know?
If only you was here with us you would
have been 65 today. Things haven't been
the same since you left us on January 12th.
But I know you are in God's hands now. And
with Grandma, where you wanted to be since
you lost her.
It has ripped my whole world into a million
pieces since you left me here all alone. But I
Know you will never have to suffer again.
Cause you suffered way too long, trying to
hang on to be here for us.
I know you wanted me to be strong and not
hurt like I have. But Daddy, when you love
someone as much as I love you, it's hard not
to cry or hurt. I am lost too death without
you by my side.
Even though I didn't always show you or
tell you and we didn't always get along. I
wish I could turn back time, so I could let
you know that....I always have been Daddy's
Girl and always will be. I love and miss you
so....I'm sorry I never got to say Good-Bye
or the chance to let you know just how
much you meant to me. But I know in my
heart you know and in my heart you will
We Sure Do Miss You!!!!!
Copyright © Robyn Marshall
White celebration again,
With mothers and children
Juicing, fruiting campaign,
Tossing drinking Champaign,
Standing and sitting again
With singing and dancing domain
A thirtieth birthday bro!
No pain no gain again.
Lightening x-massing you see,
Prepared for months to be,
With touring and camping on sea,
Treeing disco lighting may be,
A thirtieth birthday bro!
No pain no gain again.
Facebooking, snapping no less,
Flashing shamming they do,
Drinking, eating careless,
Calamity obituary on due,
A thirtieth birth day bro
No pain no gain again.
© Lucas Mkude, 07-01-2012
Copyright © Lucas Mkude
My best friend, My x boyfriend, and the one I’m still in love with.
I know I have a boyfriend and he just happens to be your best friend too, but if I had the chance to tell you everything I would.
You and I still love each other like we did 3 years ago, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
I cant leave my boyfriend because I to scared of everything that will happen.
I do love him and I do love you, but Who do I love more?
The one weekend I Saw you this year was the best weekend I've ever had.
We walked around like there was nothing else going on in the world.
The biggest smiles on our face, My lipstick on your lips, and the love in our eyes.
You and I even sang together on the park bench for the world to hear.
Shinedown is our favorite band because we both fit like perfect puzzle pieces in all their songs.
I can't describe the way you made me feel with your big blue eyes, and the way you lifted me up like I was as light as a feather.
I know people might say if I love you so much then why don't I leave him.
My answer is simple: I'm scared of being hurt… again.
Sure, every girl is sacred of a heart break but this girl?
The bipolar , depressed, starving, love hungry, emotional, girl isn’t just scared she's terrified.
I do I love my boyfriend, but I don’t know who I love more.
Sure Dustin you broke up with me on my birthday 3 years ago, but we all make mistakes.
So for this years birthday you got me a beautiful “J” necklace, the color of my birthstone.
I know it might not sound like that makes up for it but the way I feel with you makes me feel invincible.
Every night we would go up to the hill, smoke a cigarette, and just hold each other.
So if I had the opportunity to tell you one thing that I regret not telling you.
It's that I love you and the way you make me feel more then everything in the whole world... except for Tyler, my boyfriend.
I'm sorry Dustin.
Copyright © Julie Arnold
I miss you more than words can say. I wish you were here today. The laughter and fun that
we shared. It can never compare. You were my rock, my dad, my friend and this is one of
the hardest times… knowing you’re so near and yet so far. I want you around to wish you
happy birthday and sing in off key tones. I think about you every day and hold you closely
otherwise I couldn’t make it through today.
Copyright © Savannah Sullivan
A birthday present to my Gramps, Hugh McCorkidale Young.
Heaven has a place for you
Unswaying was your faith in such
Goodness always will shine through
Holding on to that has been my crutch
Many others knew you well
Cokey, heard of through the town
Countless tales they had to tell
Of all the men, you held the crown
Real though it is, it's hard to believe
Know as I do the ways of the world
In the fact that you could ever leave
Darkening my mind till my thoughts unfurled
Aloud, I cannot bring to bear
Lonely I must hold my heart
Even by myself I fear
Your absence will tear me apart
Onwards though the world must move
Unendingly your memory will stay
No-one has forgotten you
Gone though you are, you'll never fade.
Copyright © Marchioness Of Mock Turtles
I do not know?
I'll blow out the candles
Though the cake's not mine
It's your Birthday, One more time
I still count the days
Though it's been a few years
But' I'll never be able to count the tears
Happy Birthday Love-I still love you
Happy Birthday Dear-You're still dear to me
Happy Birthday Darlin-I'll never forget you
Will time ever bring you back to me?
Your Birthday card lays unread on the table
Your flowers fade and dry from neglect
But your picture remains by my bedside
For your love I can never forget
If time heals all wounds
Than time is on my side
For one day I shall be allowed to rest
Than together we'll be forever side by side
Happy Birthday Love-I still love you
Happy Birthday Dear-You're still dear to me
Happy Birthday Darlin-I'll never forget you
In time together forever we will always be
Copyright © Fritz Purdum
Transfixed upon a lucite sunray
the iron blood of longshoremen
washed beneath the whisperings of the bay
a pupil canvas pierced through
by the scalpel of elephantine deceit
vision yellowed in the flowering of a lost identity
the young man swallows deeply and mourns
the gist of his first twenty-nine years.
Copyright © Aron Jacob
I missed your birthday that was last year
What got in the way was more than a tear
Even though we have been far apart
Now is the time to make a fresh start
I long for your touch and dream of your smile
And to share your days for a very long while
I guess we can go day by day
I’m hoping you’re feeling in the same way
My love for you I carry still
I offer my heart do what you will
Copyright © Warner Baxter
I do not know?
Birthday’s come and birthdays go,
I shouldn’t worry, I fully know
First they’re young then follows old,
But as they pass I grow cold
And weary of the days to come
Feeling like a total bum
Just waiting for my time to end
Until my cards, they’ll no longer send.
April 7, 2005
Copyright © Tina Thornton
Intense and brooding
watching and waiting
investigating and searching
toying and playing
with your affections
manipulation and copulation
baying at the moon.
spinning its web
of lies and deception
a form of manipulation
just to get her way.
seeing her prey
taking her time
of its final display
its unexpected attack
devouring the flesh
the passionate killer
a Scorpion of course!
Copyright © Shelly Wiseberg
I watched them fade slowly
losing a bit of color
hanging their heads in shame
because the birthday
was long over.
Each petal fell
on the kitchen table
waiting for its sisters
while the seeds followed hurriedly
not wanting to miss the party
about to begin in the garden.
SKB 55 years and one week old
Copyright © Sheila Kathryn Barrera
i may not be a mahammod ali but my words will float like a butterfly and sting like
now there was this baby girl who was so unaware and didnt understand why
daddy used to run his fingers through her hair and lay next to her while tuggin at
her underwear See mommy never knew what was going on because sixteen
hours out of a twenty four day mommy was gone and know it is two days before
her daughters tenth birthday baby girl is dreedin it like its about to be her worse
day daddy touchin her in inapproriate places was the first phase suddenly her
mother realizing her daughter is always in a daze
happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birthday dear alexis happy
birthday to you
as i close my eyes and begin to make my wish
dear lord please dont let daddy ask me for another kiss
visions of the past came into my mind daddy touching me down there until my
vagina bleeds puttin his body parts on mine tellin me its okay no daddy! it is not
okay you have made me into the monster that stands before you today good night
alexis i hope you enjoyed yo birthday her mother calls i have to go to work i will
see you tomorrow be good for daddy i love you good bye no mommy please dont
leave me here aline alexis began to cry. whats wrong baby girl are you having a
bad day no mommy scary and bad things happen to me when you go away her
mother chuckled and gave her a kiss on her forhead goodbye and left her
daughter in the care of her husband as a tear fell from her daughters eye as the
front door closes the bathroom door opens and there in her doorway appears a
figure not a father figure but a figure of her father with a grin on his face and his
dick in his hand telling his only baby girl his is going to make her a real wo-man!
but daddy its my birthday and im--im ready to go to bed hush your mouth baby girl
and give daddy some head well you know how that story go
six years later cant even walk the halls of her high school without being called a
hoe. people look at her but people dont see her people hear her but people dont
listen to her well listen to this she is not a garden tool you cannot used her and
abuse her like some kind of fool.
then throw her in the corner when you are done and expect to pull her out again
when your ready to have fun
the moral of this story is to stop look and listen but her mother never did that
now she must stop look and position flowers on her daughters grave because
yesterday ladys and gentlemen alexis died of AIDS
Copyright © desiree whitehead
I do not know?
Another year gone by
Yeah, who gives a darn?
I'm drowning in a sea of a hundred and fifty happy birthday wishes
From a hundred forty nine strangers.
Even the special ones don't seem so great
When all you can think about is the void
The void you feel when you realize not who's there
but who's not there.
Who didn't I see?
I see a hundred forty nine strangers pass by
When the one person I truly want isn't ever here.
So here's to another year
May it be exactly like ones past.
And here's to all the same fears
My only friends that seem to last.
Copyright © Mike A.
Emily wakes up laughing
but I see tears upon her pillow.
She's so far away from
shoulders and sleeves.
No more pajama tops
or secrets in the dark,
just a flame burning slowly down to spark.
Where and when
then and there
she's losing track of details.
She punches the clock
and puts together
pieces of permanent plastic.
She hears a song,
her strength is gone.
She lays down her munitions.
Crying on the coward's birthday.
Copyright © Marty Windsor
I do not know?
It’s Valentines Day full of cards and kisses
Wish you were here covers all of my wishes
Easter is here and were celebrating our lord
Each day that passes I miss you even more
It’s been seven years today since we said, “I do”
It seems longer than that since I last held you
We all gather together for the birth of our land
It’s the Fourth of July and your not here as we planned
It’s your birthday today marking 34 years
When I think of you celebrating alone, it brings me to tears
Now it’s thanksgiving and the families all here
The rooms filled with spirit and still your not here
Out of habit I set a place at the tables head
The kids leave it and “Soon Mom” is all that was said
Santa is coming and kids are full of cheer
I try to keep smiling even though you are not here
Pictures with Santa and the lighting of the tree
Smiles on Christmas morning I wish you could see
We gather to wish good tidings to all
I sit and wait by the phone thinking maybe you’d call
You have missed a great deal in the year you’ve been gone
Jason had a great time at his junior prom
Katie turned seven and Chrissie turned two
For all their birthday wishes- they just wished for you
At night we all get tucked into bed
We snuggle up close and then bow our heads
Dear Lord please keep special watch over our Dad
If anything happens to him we’ll be so sad
He’s over helping the other country grow
Doing his job as you already know
He’s helping other little boys and girls
Opening their eyes to a whole new world
We are so proud of him and hold our heads high
But each night we hear mommy lay there and cry
We all miss him more than you know
Yet during the day we don’t let it show
We have to be strong and keep the faith
That soon he’ll be home with us and be safe
We are proud to hang that flag up high
We are all so full of American pride
We pray for all the soldiers’ safe return home
We pray that there are no more families left alone
Dear God for this Christmas please hear us pray
Bring our soldiers home where they belong, where they’ll stay
Copyright © Dawn Swain
Calm as the ski's on this morning and as lonely as the song the birds sang,
this was my birthday morning and what a morning to have the blues,
the 37 before never had me filling like I'm the first one in a chain gang,
I know,I know it's my party and I'll mope if I want to I just can't help to fill as I do,
As I close my eyes I know at this moment I should be back home,
Then there's no more sorrow or emptiness and I'll be happy on this day,
as I pour the coffee in silence wishing I could call you on the phone,
towards a cup and lip I wish you were here... yet in silence I stay,
So this is my birthday and this is how I fill,
wanting what I can't have...a talk with my mom and sharing a laugh,
don't want to smile no need to celebrate I just want to take time to chill,
time to heal and time to recharge I'll do it on her behalf,
She never liked to see me down to her I was at my best when I smiled,
she use to say your only as old as you fill so keep on being you my son,
it's hard to be happy when your moms not around to call you her child,
happy birthday it just doesn't sound right today maybe tomorrow I'll have fun.
Copyright © michael romero