The Boxes of Dr. Spasmodious

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: [none]

Written by Robert Hunter to be read over the air at a Grateful Dead NYE concert broadcast from Kaiser Auditorium in 1986. The last two lines vary to rhyme with the year.

Dr. Spasmodious sat at his desk,
the end of the year drawn nigh,
haunted, harried, full of gloom,
watching the seconds die.

The maid behind him sloshed her mop
in a bucket of silvery suds;
unborn children watched through a crack
in the floor of the attic above.

We were together, you and I,
with other children yet to be born,
between the ages, if not in life,
one to the other, eternally sworn.

You, frail and fair as a lily,
held my hand by light of the moon,
pale beams brightly spilling
on boxes all over the room -

boxes heavy with dust of the dead,
time and decay - all but one:
tied with a shining bit of thread
fine as a baby's hair and red.

"Tell me your prophecy, Maid of the Mop,"
said the Doctor downstairs below,
"What's simple to you is subtle to me.
What sort of year will this coming year be?"

She shook a spark from her long red hair
which flew like a star to his tree
"Spring will be damp and Summer dry
and Autumn come presently . . ."

So saying, she bound her flowing hair
with a ribbon of scarlet twine,
returned to mopping the floor away
until nothing remained but shine.

Down we came with cautious tread
you, I, and all of the others -
bearing the box tied with a thread
fine as a baby's hair and red.

The maid once more unloosed her hair,
gray now as clouds when laden with rain.
You she chose, took by the hand,
allowed, out of all, to remain.

The rest she kissed both sides of the cheek
as the chimes of the New Year dinned,
one by one sent each through the door
to dissolve in the rain and wind.

Dr. Spasmodious watched from his chair
on the point of a tear but refrained.
He smiled instead, held out his arms
to you who were spared from the rain.

"Welcome my child to life again,
to the kingdom of hope and pain.
Ring in the New, Two Thousand and Five
May grace prevail and we survive!"
Other endings have included:
Two Thousand and Six! Ring in the year!
Deliver us peace and freedom from fear."

Let two thousand and seven arrive;
may grace prevail and we survive!"