Posted by: Juliann Budimir | January 10, 2017

Merci, LC

The sound of words echoing on a page
Have I reached my Golden Age?
Reverberations of an unfinished truth
Fill me like a whispering youth
I am refreshed by the thought of your flesh
The poetry of your desire
The songs it inspires
Like lost memories
Dazzling vagrancies
Inspired by a man I never knew.

Yet, in your Hallelujah, I felt I knew you
Filling my mind with music and rhyme
It took your death to rediscover my poetry
Your fire sets me free.

Juliann Budimir, 2017.  All rights reserved.

Leonard Cohen in Hydra, 1971.  Photo by E & H Manners.


Posted by: Juliann Budimir | January 9, 2017

The Expanse


A mystic in your eyes it seems
A tower rises in my dreams
How do we traverse the sea of meaning,
Of knowing how to please?


The way is coarse and stretched out wide
Without your inspiration to provide
The smiles of a pleasure path
Or its effervescent aftermath.
Days made heavy by the truth
Seek to find our long lost youth.


I see the salt white upon the plain
I feel the lost detritus of your pain
Are the memories that form in my mind
The only things, remains I’ll find?


The carnal carnage of our days
Left scattered by our crazy play
Sings songs unsung until the end.
When did love portend
The vacancy of loneliness
Filled by his holiness?


Never did we say it would be better that way
Only rhymes breathe life to dreams at night
But then the words stopped and so did the game
What tenderness we shared was lost on the plain
Cast off by the sun, never to be seen again.


Juliann Budimir,
January 2, 2017



Juliann Budimir, 2017.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | December 30, 2016

Dandelion Flame

The flower full of splendid years
Is living proof our soul reveres.
Burnished by the sun,
The petals fall one by one
At year’s passing they reply,
“Will you make a wish, or shall I?”


The light is bright, not much akin
To brooding, quivering Theremins.
It burns orange, yellow in the night
Our ever flickering candlelight.
When words congeal and mind repairs
The weary world our soul compares


It never hears you call my name
Or sees you light my dandelion flame.
Till then my heart stands steadfast by
As my wish blows candle bye.


Juliann Budimir,
December, 2016


Juliann Budimir, 2016.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | December 27, 2016


The expanse of lyrics scattered in the mind

Inspired by the wind are lucky if they find

Iambic pentameter, a couplet or a rhyme

A romantic lilt, some wit; regardless, they are mine.

        –  Juliann Budimir


Juliann Budimir, 2016.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | January 27, 2011

Royal Flush

It’s been almost a year since my date with Frank Sinatra.  He has dazzled me with every luscious note, every wicked innuendo, that when the night finally came, I was breathless for more.  All day, my body was aquiver with anticipation.  After so many years, this was a momentous occasion.  It was a comfortably crisp California night, and my glamorous white faux fur was the perfect counterpoint to my black mini skirt and matching lace top. 

He chose the lobby bar of a boutique hotel for our rendez-vous, and I soon learned why.  It was empty save for the lady bartender who knew better than to intrude.  There was a hush to the surroundings and a quiet luxury that was accentuated by the black velvet patterned wallpaper that enveloped the intimate room.  It hinted at rococo and offset the white painted wood of the mid-century Chinoiserie.  There hung the scent of absinthe and perfume, like the gilded jewelry box of a nineteenth century courtesan.  With its vintage, yet timeless charm, it could have been anywhere in the world, but on this particular evening, there was no place where I would rather have been. 

He stood when he saw me, and under his gaze, the quivering anticipation of the day became a sudden warmth that crept up my back and bloomed, full-flush, in my cheeks.  He was a devastating man, and if only for an evening, he was mine.

Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn?
Well don’t think I’m trying not to learn
Since this is the perfect spot to learn
Teach me tonight

He was naturally tan and he wore it well, like Rossano Brazzi in his prime.  His personal style was impeccable and meticulous without being dated or overdone.  He was part Hollywood director, part heartthrob, and part California dandy.  Though he scarcely worked a day in his life, he had the air of a man who had assumed great influence and wielded the bearing of his name.  The jeans and the blazer balanced the ensemble, and there was just the right amount of grey in his casually coiffed hair.  The French cuffs of his crisp, peach shirt were adorned with cufflinks that I could only imagine depicted his fraternity, and above the open collar, a tuft of dark hair was just peeking through.  I was hot like a molten soufflé and quickly removed my jacket.  I might have been perched in the small armchair opposite him, but I felt like I was floating over the cocktail table towards him, like a lover in a Chagall painting.  Would he join me?  His eyes suggested as much.  While this may not have been Francis Albert Sinatra, this was as close to a date with Frank as I’d ever have, and under the spell of my racing heart, I knew it to be true.

Given his half-downed glass, it was clear that he had already settled in before I arrived, and I liked to think that he got there early in anticipation of seeing me.  The decadent décor was tailor made for such a man, especially when he was expecting to pour on the charm.  It was frustrating how well he did it, too.  I was drawn in by this captivating figure even faster than I had expected.

How do you pinpoint when it began, that luscious love affair, that timeless fascination?  He was king of a thousand hearts, and mine was one of them.  I have been hanging on Frank’s every note for many years, dreaming away at his overwhelming artistry, his pungent punch lines and daring innuendo.  The way he bends a note makes me swoon, and before I fall with a descending phrase, he picks me up again with that biting charm and hurls me skyward where we’ll play among the stars.  If a look, if a gaze could be as strong, if a smile could be as devastating, it was staring me down from across the cocktail table.  Of course it wasn’t the Chairman of the Board himself, but the way I felt, it might as well have been.  

In fine wheels we flew to a nearby restaurant and ordered without looking at the menu.  Rather, he ordered for us with aplomb, chumming up the waiters who seemed to know him well.  How numerous were the dates who had sat in the same seat on other winter evenings?  How many toasts and coos and smiles had there been across the tablecloth, across the years?  Was I a comma or an exclamation point?  There were so many questions; I didn’t dare ask a single one.  He was a complicated cat, a dashing man and likely a handful.  Just like Frank, he had an edge, and he wasn’t afraid to use it.

The streets were nearly silent when we left the restaurant and dipped into the cool, night air arm-in-arm.  We turned off of Wilshire onto a side street, and there, in the heart of Beverly Hills, my Frank took me in his arms and made me remember it.  

Starting with the ABC of it
Getting right down to the XYZ of it
Help me solve the mystery of it
Teach me tonight

I closed the door behind him, and heard Frank singing in the other room.  Graduation’s almost here my love, you’d better teach me tonight.  From torch song to ballade to swingin’ with Basie, Frank would always be with me.  I could feel a mile high in a minute, could see a second sunset in a day, could turn Perrier into pink champagne in under a tune.  With Sinatra, an evening knew no end, and there was starlight at dawn.  With Frank Sinatra, I could forever live that ring-a-ding-ding, that je ne sais quoi.

Juliann Budimir, 2011.  All rights reserved.

“Teach Me Tonight” (Sammy Cahn/Gene DePaul)
“Fly Me to the Moon” (Bart Howard)

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | December 30, 2010

Presence (Variations)


A plaintive, steady cry and counterpointe to my
Quiet contemplation hummed a bittersweet lullaby.
Surreal was the sound of my finger round the rim
A shrill alarm but dim, the pealing bell of memory.

The lilting music box bid me comply
Leading me astray to times gone by.

A fern the size of children’s fingers
Pressed upon a windowpane
Hung, as if suspended,
Illuminated by the light
It was a momentous night.

This California edelweiss was ours alone,
A verdant view of childhood far from home.
I saw the leafy edges and the central spine,
Magnified by dewdrops as it lay supine.

The wine had hardly any legs
As I tipped the glass from side to side.
A cup half full is a cup half empty
It is still half a glass whether white or ruby.

I sing a note that glass will never break,
Dreaming of the time when we partake.
In shared companionship we do astound,
When caring souls awakened know no bounds.

The lilting music box bid me comply
Leading me astray to times gone by.

Memories of a summer’s peach
Of small, Italian towns (and looks just out of reach)
I taste the taste of seasons not yet sent
Of half-filled dreams and hope no more implied
Than wanderlust beseeches hopes belied.

I blinked, and you were gone
Where did you go?
What did you see?
Will you bring it back to me?

Reaching back across the grey horizons,
Across the faint folds of memories, he replied,
“Childhood,” with sad regret, and then he sighed.

The lilting leitmotif played my refrain
A reverie I seem to hold in vain. 

That Fate may fill with joy the glass pour moi,
With that endlessly elusive je ne sais quoi.


The lush notes wafting from the radio as I drove offered the first respite from my day; the familiar, romantic tones a soothing balm for the soul.  I was almost certain it was Brahms.  The delicate woodwinds and rich strings of the andante that built with cinematic strength were delightfully evocative.  Then, once the poco allegretto began, it confirmed to me that it was Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.  Hearing this ravishing music on the heels of a certain correspondence reaffirmed my inner strength and resolve to persevere. 

Less than an hour later, I was greeted by my beloved Mom with a special treat that she said would make me smile.  She opened up the refrigerator drawer and handed me a bottle.  With great anticipation, I lifted it out of the slim, brown bag, and smiled brightly at the sight of Schramsberg.  I could feel the lightness begin to return, to twinkle on the horizon like the effervescent glow of sunset.  Soon we would be enjoying this magnificent champagne with dear friends.

Driving home, I chanced upon a glorious harp concerto that I had never heard before.  What an inspirational discovery!  With sweeping strings and the intimacy of the soloist, I found myself guessing who might have composed such a complex and fascinating work.  The delicate and intoxicating notes were all the more luminous to me given that my mother shines on the harp.  Reinhold Glière’s Harp Concerto found its way into my heart amidst the city lights and the long, complicated and sometimes fascinating journey home.  With a grateful sigh, I smiled at the warmth I felt emanate from within, that je ne sais quoi.

Juliann Budimir, 2010.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | November 30, 2010


California Camelot - Santa Monica Bay

It was one of those perfect Southern California afternoons that made wintering here the most delicious thing in the world.  With cool days and even colder nights, I braced for a blustery experience and wondered if I would choose to eat outside.  But with the sun shining at its brightest and the wind at bay, it felt delightfully warm and invigorating.  I had been meaning to go to Santa Monica Place since its complete renovation many months ago.  The rooftop dining terrace beckoned with supposed views of Santa Monica Bay.  I love beautiful views and being outdoors in the afternoon, especially as I’m usually inside at my desk, hard at work or writing away. 

Catalina rising from the blue

Today, I was treated with a glorious afternoon, and the modern elegance of the mall made way for the most memorable part of the redesign.  As I rode the outdoor escalator up to the top floor, the softly curving walls of the restaurants spread out like wings and drew me westward towards the unbelievable sight.  There, beyond the inspired mix of low and high tables and booths for six beneath wood-framed canopies, was the azure blue swath of sea and sky.  Horizontal hues punctuated by palms, the colors stretched as far as they could until they disappeared behind the buildings that jutted up from the street below.  I wished I could have helped them in their quest, the azure and the blue, help push away the rooftops that encroached on their nearly natural space.  But such was progress, and had it not been for the mall’s renovation, I would not have had the opportunity to savor such a view.

Santa Monica Pier and Palos Verdes

And savor, I did.  I found reasonably tasty comfort food that I brought outside to one of the booths overlooking the rooftops and the double blue.  Adding to the composition were two rare sites often hidden by fog:  Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island.  Here in full view, Catalina seemed to rise up from the sea like a great, winged bird.  No matter how many times I have looked out across Santa Monica Bay and the broad stretch of the Pacific Ocean, I have always looked for these mountainous sentinels and always delight when I do.  For less than ten bucks I enjoyed a good slab of meatloaf, corn, and mac ‘n cheese with a million dollar view.  It was my own California Camelot, paradise at the end of November, and the perfect starting point for one of my favorite ocean walks on the cliffs overlooking the sea.   

Even with soda instead of champagne, both food and fauna were succulent.  It was a perfect afternoon getaway, and a healthy dose of je ne sais quoi

Beachfront estates along Pacific Coast Highway

Juliann Budimir, 2010.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | November 14, 2010


Schramsberg & the art of sabrage

It was last minute and fairly expensive, but I was compelled to do it, to do it for Stéphane.  For me, it was a pilgrimage of the grape.  After years of thinking about Stéphane and his “Schramsberg deal,” I had a Schramsberg deal, too. 

As Schramsberg has woven its way into my heart through my novel, it was especially delightful to drink such splendid sparkling wine with the vintner, himself.  My leitmotif was looking for words that float off the page and pause ever so slightly like the tingling texture of the sparkling wine.  

“Stéphane Poussin was the proud heir of Château Poussin, purveyor of fine champagne.  A relatively young label for French champagne, Château Poussin was well respected for its quality and consistency, especially at a price that would not sour the celebration.  Many would say that Stéphane lived the enviable life of a bon vivant, with decadent luxuries that far exceeded his efforts.  After fifteen years of dedication, during which time he tended more and more to the business than the grapes, he had a veritable empire and a true place in society.”

What could be more befitting, then, than an evening with California’s preeminent sparkling wine, Schramsberg Vineyards, and its esteemed vintner, Hugh Davies?  Donning pearls and black satin, I was White House ready, just as Schramsberg was when it became the first American sparkling wine served at an official U.S. State dinner.  It was an effervescent evening with scintillating notes that wafted like fond memories across my mind.  It was a moment suspended, a moment to be savored along with every culinary delight, and a moment that would transcend our ephemeral feast.  This was an evening I would not soon forget.

The lovely Napa Valley Grille succeeded in designing and preparing a splendid culinary event.  From the hors d’oeuvre to the Southern Fried Quail to the delightfully decadent dessert, the flavors paired wonderfully with each Schramsberg selection.  What began as my first Wine Dinner would hopefully inspire many more.

Amidst the gregarious and charming people with whom I conversed at the always elegant Napa Valley Grille, I thought of Stéphane.  I thought of Stéphane as I listened to Hugh, and I couldn’t help admire their oenological knowledge and their charm.  Both shared an intense love of the grape, a passion for winemaking, and that je ne sais quoi.  They took great pride in creating sunlight in a glass and stepped back for the rest of the world to enjoy it. 

 “In preparation for the 150th anniversary of Château Poussin, it had been suggested to him that he personally promote the champagne on a grand scale.  He was to become so indistinguishable from the champagne that his name would touch the tip of the tongue with each effervescent sip.  

“Once he warmed to the idea of celebrating the sesquicentennial, he was surrounded by the dizzying entourage of snarling, cooing men and women who filled his life with endless meetings, fittings and phone calls.  He responded with reserved enthusiasm only to be transformed into a snazzy dandy of a man.  He had an innate elegance that befitted the Poussin tradition, yet his hubris had long gone unchecked.  What he may have lost in his home-and-hearth appeal, he doubly gained in style.  Stéphane was the quintessential Frenchman in every respect.  His taut, compact frame was elegantly clothed by the best couturiers, his social graces were impeccable, and his taste in everything was without rival.  If there was criticism to make of him, it was that his passion was broad rather than deep, superficial instead of profound.”       

Yet for those of us lucky to be sharing in that softly lit repast, we had experienced the profound.  We were ripe with inspiration and bursting full of joy. 

With charms afloat in bubbly, we would always be
Filled with hope and promise doubly, endlessly.

Juliann Budimir, 2010.  All rights reserved.

Hugh Davies demonstrating the art of sabrage... La confrérie du sabre d'or

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | October 28, 2010


What do you want to be?  A question with a million answers or a single one:  me.    Me, only better.  More glamorous, more enticing, more irresistible.  It’s Halloween.  To capture in a dazzling eyeful, that je ne sais quoi, to feel the way I want him to feel about me.  To be the Rose Queen, to be the Nightly News, Sinatra onstage, that ring-a-ding-ding.  I sing songs no one ever hears.  I’ve stopped counting the years. 

Hope is an insomniac, weaving dreams at night.  The horizon of possibility is endless in the dark, imagination gliding effortlessly like a hand across smooth satin sheets.  The cool, damp air is ripe in its fruitfulness as if hanging by the thread of inspiration.  With surroundings suspended, music wafts in the far-off distance, if at all.  Others sleep, but sleep eludes me.  My mind is awhirl with thoughts of things to come, and I wait as if I’ll feel that click at one or two or three.  Why is something new so appealing?  Perhaps it’s someone new we seek.  So many people rushing aimlessly, anonymously through the night like starlight shining on another day.  Will I ever find my way?  I wonder why some pause yet never linger, let alone stay. 

We sit alone in the dark in the obscure solitude of our rooms, screens illuminating our shadowy faces and the softly pulsing hope inside.  How can something so essential to life be so hard to find?  I think, therefore I am resigned to the rule of that dense grey mass at war with the sometimes lively beating of my heart.  It is an art that some have wrought too well, their fleeting joy a costly spell.  By now, the evening’s at its dregs.  I want to kiss the day good-night and leave illusion like an empty glass on the windowsill.

Alight soft night and draw your darkened mantle, cover me in stardust and the most luminous memories of my days.  The promise of dawn awakens soon before me.  I am ready to recoup the joy of a glass half full.  A life half full awaiting the lovely mingling of its other cup.  Glimmering like ripples in reply, we find our fate, our shining star on high.

Juliann Budimir, 2010.  All rights reserved.

Posted by: Juliann Budimir | September 29, 2010

Love Notes

Once, there were bubbles.  Large, white spheres that hung like notes from the top of the shell of the Hollywood Bowl.  From their smooth, white surface, the passionate refrain was amply reflected back to me where I sat, halfway up the hillside in full view of the stage.  Listening to the Mendelssohn violin concerto was always a gripping experience, but hearing it live made me tingle like the touch of a long-awaited hand suddenly clasping my own.  After the first four notes, I could feel my heartbeat quicken, and a warmth crept slowly up my back and broke, full-flush, in my rose-colored cheeks.  He was a genius, our concert master, and handsome, too.  With an upswept bow, he came to rest, and wiped his brow as the orchestra continued to play.  His Stradivarius at the ready, he began again, gently, tauntingly, as if daring the listener to focus even more acutely on the overwhelming artistry of his technique, on the devastating beauty of his soul. 

Halfway up the hill, in the gently leading light I felt a quiver of another night, a memory of bubbles hanging overhead, of a stippled view of family and friends looking back at us.  One-hundred and thirty-five young ladies standing proudly in our matching dresses.  This was our Hollywood Bowl, the one we graduated in many years ago.  Countless composers have filled the summer nights.  I have heard Strauss and Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Ravel, Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms, to name just a few of the masters brought to life by the world class musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  Scheduled somewhere on that illustrious list, my high school graduation class proudly and humbly took the stage.

With programming that celebrates both high art and pop culture, the Hollywood Bowl is truly an icon.  For sentimental reasons, one of my favorite evenings is The Sound of Music sing-along.  With a fondness for Julie Andrews as Maria and her effervescent je ne sais quoi, my closest childhood friends and I share a touchstone of memory, an Austrian version of Proust’s madeleine.  Here we were years later, sitting in the first row of the bench seats, the box hedge before us decorated for the occasion, and I dressed up as an impromptu Fraulein Maria.  Unfortunately, I looked more like a Pilgrim, but I had edelweiss in my heart.  Filled with wine and best intentions, this was our Aulde lang syne.  Under the new moon and starlight, I felt like the Captain was looking at me.  

Like an intermezzo linking one movement to the next, the Los Angeles Philharmonic moves from the Hollywood Bowl to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the upcoming season.  With iridescent, flowering folds, Disney Hall rises from the remains of Bunker Hill like a silver phoenix poised for flight.  The unexpected curves of its wings are seemingly midway through a syncopated dance or, perhaps, considering a rapturous response to a well-known riff.  Inside, I know beside me in my lofty perch will alight a symphonic splendor.

I wish for words that float like music, lyrical at first, then lingering in the soul after the last note is played.  To be one with the music, one with the words, adrift in linguistic song until the final measure of our days!  And then, if sweat and magic meld to sweet effect, we sip the tears of posterity.  What does it take to receive this joyous cup?  Is desire, alone, enough to taste the blessed brew?  Are images that spring from words as lovely as those musically inclined?  We seek, we dream, we find.  We hope.  

The LA Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl have inspired my words, deepened my stories, and filled my scenes with light.

Juliann Budimir, 2010.  All rights reserved.

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