“Promises of a Used Car Salesman” (a poem by KPKeelan)


With his sandpaper voice of gravel and chalk

from across the room

my father called to me.

He was drinking.

You never went to him immediately

when he was drinking,

but paused

to case-out the situation.

I could see there was no danger


His Fred MacMurry sunnyness

had not yet succumbed to

Boris Karloff gloom.

Dr. Jeckyl

had yet to become Mr. Hyde.

One more tall can of Brew 102 should do the trick.

Knees crossed, head resting on the palm of his hand,

I saw his world-weary Humphrey Bogart eyes

so sad behind the smoky Marlboro curtain,

as he looked down to snuff out

another cigarette.

He cleared his throat to speak.

(He was continually clearing his throat

as though he could grumble away

a lifetime of nicotine sin.)

Son, he said, you’re almost sixteen…

(I wasn’t sure I liked where this was going.)

And soon, you’re going to need a car of your own…

He kept me waiting

as he tapped on another cigarette

lit it, took a deep drag

and exhaled a toxic cloud of death

into the air between us.

Maybe he was waiting for an answer,

but I knew better than to speak.

What do you say I pick a car off the lot tomorrow

and drive it home for you?

I allowed my eyebrow to arch

in barely-contained skepticism.

Master glandhander,

my dad had no problem telling you

what he thought you wanted to hear.

By now,

I knew better than trust

the promises of a used car salesman.

I said something like:


He cleared his throat, farted

(He was always farting.)

and uncrossed his legs to retrieve his wallet.

Removing a ten dollar bill

he handed it to me

with his shaky hand of red, cracked leather.


Maybe this would buy me off.

Blood money to ease his tortured conscience.

Maybe this would help the pain fade,

the fear recede;

help erase the ugly memories of a livid dad,

belt in hand

looking to hit someone- anyone!

(Surly one of us had done something…)

I was home the next day

when dad returned from work.

He was driving his own car.

He walked right past me

… saying nothing.


 (7- 2- 12)



About KPKeelan

Fool, Philosopher, Lover & Dreamer, Benign TROUBLEMAKER, King and Jester of KPKworld, an online portal to visual and linguistic mystery, befuddlement and delight.
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2 Responses to “Promises of a Used Car Salesman” (a poem by KPKeelan)

  1. Very creative description of hellworld Kevin, very creative writing.. My dad was an alcoholic, finally quit when I was about 5 years old and never took another drink, so I don’t have any bad memories of him drunk. I do have bad memories of him and my mother arguing, but she usually set that off w/her behaviors.


  2. Still very powerful description of life in many dysfunctional homes….


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