Thursday, January 22, 2015

Farewell, Sky and Yener

Facebook can often bring me a lot of joy and laughter, antics of friends and family - family in the broadest sense. Or consternation about some political event. And sometimes it brings me sorrow, when I learn of the loss of someone that had a place in my heart or a place in the hearts of people I love. This time, it was doubled. The learning of one recently gone and finding out, in the connection about the first, about another gone two seasons ago. I didn't know. I didn't know. My St. Croix family is dwindling far too fast.

Kimmie and Sky (credit: Kimberly Mills)
Sky, that is his name - almost always with a grin, usually a shy sly Sky grin. I got to know Sky, beyond that casual first meeting that happens so easily on islands, the night I was out at a friend's club and decided to play a game of pool with some local guys. I like to play pool, even if I don't play very well (except for those magical times when I play amazingly well because the pool gods are smiling on me). I thought I knew the rules but apparently, I didn't know the rules with these guys and it was turning scary fast. And then, there was Sky. "MJ, you're done playing pool now, girl, you come with me and let's have a drink." "But Sky! I'm just..." A firm hand on my arm and a hand taking away my pool cue while pulling me into another room of the place told me that yes, I was done playing pool. "Don't you know you don't play pool with them, you don't know their rules" Sky said. And I realized, like learning that mañana doesn't mean tomorrow, there were rules that I'd never quite understand but I could get the message. It was a good time for a drink.

That was Sky for me, there with advice and laughter. I don't know exactly what happened, one story is that a brown recluse bit him and then a couple of months later, another bite. Peacefully gone in his sleep, I hear. Which makes me glad. Thank you, Sky, for you.

photo credit: unknown
Yener, that is his name. Yener made music, really beautiful music. He also was a water sports guru, along with having a black belt in martial arts. He didn't just do something, he excelled in whatever he did, including being a wonderful father to his two boys and husband to his beautiful and talented wife. St. Croix Watersports Center is still being run by Michelle, I'm happy to read.

But for me, though I love the water, it was about the music. Yener made music that I could sit and listen to with a huge grin on my face while tears flowed down my cheeks; it was that beautiful affect that combined passion and drama along with a zen tranquility unique to Yener. While it wasn't 'soul' music as to the genre, it was soul music for sure.

Sometimes he played alone and other times, he and a friend, Steve Katz, another brilliant music maker, would play together at local bars. I would grab front row seating even if there weren't rows at all, just to be bathed in their guitar radiance. I didn't know I'd never hear the two of them play together again, something I was just assuming would happen whenever I got back to St. Croix. Now I'll play them together in my memories, and listen to Yener on CD's, sitting as close as possible to hear magic come from flying fingers over wood and strings.

Yener Korkut ~ Rising Sea from the CD Storm of Light

I chose this song because in the middle is a part that always made me laugh (real quietly, but Yener would be grinning too) where he does repeats. It was like a little musical joke in the middle of, well, a rising sea. At least that's how I heard and saw it. On his liner notes, Yener  has "(Silence/Flashback/Denial/Hope)" connected to this song. Yes.

I can't think of Sky or Yener without smiling. That cliche 'gone but not forgotten' is a cliche for a reason, and with these two, while such very different men, the connection is heart and soul. They both had so much of both and shared overflowingly. How can that ever be forgotten? How lucky I am to have known them both in my time on the planet.

Have a trade triumphs Thursday. Do something tenderly.


  1. i tried to comment yesterday but it wouldn't go through.....let's see..........

  2. WOW, IT WORKED..!! i had just said that i could see why you would sit right where you could watch him play his consciously contemplative music, as i put it...that's a big loss as is "sky" who reminds me of good guys i've known in the V.I. who have also made their transition........

  3. gave me a soulful memory today when I came across your tribute to my husband, Yener Korkut. I was his first wife, the one who "captured" him in the US and kept him here - then journeyed with him to St. Croix where he and I began the Hotel On The Cay watersports business together. To begin with, it was Yener's music that drew me in so long ago on the island of Guadeloupe, where we'd met. Thanks for the nice interlude. Andi

    1. Andi, thank you for your comment. I was just on St. Croix yesterday for a wedding and thought a lot about Yener and missed him all over again and then this today. Thank you for some more history, sharing your reality with him. He gave us all, in so many different ways, so much. MJ