Jim Ross

Sunflower national flower of Ukraine and symbol of hope

If anyone didn’t know, and most of us didn’t, the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, a symbol of hope, unity, and resistance against oppressors. This sunflower grew in my garden throughout the pandemic. It has generously fed the bees and various insects drawn to it. My daughter tells me that in the summer 2022 we will have an entire field of sunflowers. I hope that by summer’s end the destruction of Ukraine is long over and the country  will begin to re-emerge from this period of darkness.


Ukrainian worker seen in Slovakia.

While in Slovakia we saw a Ukrainian man working as a carpenter. There have been some famous carpenters throughout history. I don’t know whether he’s among them. Maybe now he is.


“Shoes along the Danube” sculpture in memory of those who were  told to remove their shoes before they were shot, killed, and fell into the Danube in the final vindictive month of the World War II.  We are seeing the same sort of vindictiveness again now in Ukraine. 

On the Pest side of the Danube in Budapest, 60 pairs of cast iron shoes, anchored to the stone embankment, were installed in 2005 in remembrance of 3,500 Jews and others who were assassinated along the banks of the Danube in the Arrow Cross Terror. The war was winding down and the Arrow Cross Socialists, who were closely allied with the Nazis, saw they were on the wrong side of history. In a purposeless act of vindictiveness, in December 1944 and January 1945, they lined people up on the banks of the Danube and ordered them to remove their shoes because shoes were valuable commodities. The shoe owners were then shot, fell into the Danube, and were carried away by the river’s current. A month later, Budapest was liberated by the Soviets.


Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after a rewarding career in public health research. With graduate degree from Howard University, in seven years he’s published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, hybrid, and plays in over 175 journals and anthologies on five continents. Photo publications include Barnstorm, Blood Orange Review, Bombay Gin, Burningword, Camas, Columbia Journal, Feral, Friends Journal, Manchester Review, Memoryhouse, Montana Mouthful, Saw Palm, Stoneboat, Stonecoast, and Typehouse, with Whitefish forthcoming. Photo essays include Amsterdam Quarterly, Barren, DASH, Kestrel, Ilanot Review, Inklette, Litro, New World Writing, Sisyphus, Sweet, and Wordpeace, with Palaver, Paperbark and Typehouse forthcoming.  A soon-to-be-released photo essay in Palaver will use postcards from 1900 to present to show how children have long becomg refugees and asylum seekers in response to war, genocide, and political oppression.  Jim and his wife—parents of two health professionals and grandparents of five little ones—split their time between city and mountains.