Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Kenney has two poems published

Nov 3, 2016

Rich Kenney
Rich Kenney

CHADRON – Richard Kenney, assistant professor and Director of the Social Work program at Chadron State College, recently had two poems, “Biology of Opinion” and “Sting,” published in “Steam Ticket” and “Thought & Action Journal,” respectively.

“Biology of Opinion” revolves around the cultivation of knowledge and critical assessment, Kenney said. Inspired by the FYI course Matters of Opinion, which Kenney teaches in the summer and spring, the verses observe the exploration of fact and opinion in a biological way. The speaker of the poem encourages finding “sacs of plausibility” and avoiding “the sour bleed of prejudice,” when considering factual basis versus an opinion.

Kenney’s poem “Sting” is also related to higher education.

The poem is told from the perspective of an instructor, who is questioning the attentiveness of his classroom. Upon asking the students if anyone found it difficult to pay attention, the quietest student in the classroom responds by blaming her inattentiveness on a wasp buzzing above head. The speaker then delves into detail on the insect’s presence within the classroom.

Kenney is no stranger to the publishing world. His nonfiction piece, “High Flies and Full Chords,” was published in April. His article about teaching and learning was published in the fall of 2015 and another including his definition of social work was published in March 2013.


By Rich H. Kenney, Jr.

With my lecture

on the brink of defeat

to side conversations

and roaming cell phone eyes,

I asked if anyone

had trouble paying attention

to the newly introduced idea

when the quietest student of all

raised her hand and said

it was the wasp

skimming the ceiling

that had hers – and every head

looked up in time to see

the gliding yellow-black

buzz-duster, its long legs

dangling like landing gear

looking for a runway.


For a second, it hovered

over the middle row as if

pondering descent

onto a mound of chow mein-

then quickly crossed the room

in one face-felt swoop-

the face belonging to Kicks

who removed his cap

in reprisal when the gentle

voice opined composure

and suggested we keep

in check any weapons

that whack or smack-

for venom’s fresh spill,

she warned,

summoned trouble-

reckoning a nest of unrest.

She whispered

it wasn’t worth the risk

and explained how

one of her friends

got stung in the mouth,

creating angst and tongue-swell.


And so we sat

for what seemed

a semester with sealed

lips and trailing eyes-

a kind of rattled serenity

I never though possible

thanks to a lesson in presence,

one may I learn to land.

—Conor P. Casey, Graduate Assistant