Life wasn’t hard on Charlie
But it wasn’t easy neither
‘bout like most cowboys who’ve seen life’s ups and downs
He retired from punchin’ cows and most thought all he’s doin’ now
Is marking time on his small place outside of town

At least that’s what they figured
But then, no one saw him much
He just stayed out there alone on his patch of desert
Yet despite the dust and heat, he kept the place up pretty neat
And every year it seemed to look a little better

Now you can call me nosy
I like to say concerned
‘Cause I’d always turn in whenever I was out that way
We’d talk a little while, and he’d ask with half a smile
“You want to see how they’re a-doin’ now today?”

See, Charlie was a cactus rancher
(I learned not to call it farmin’)
And he was proud—proud of his sturdy prickly herd
He had claret cup, and prickly pear and a cholla name of teddy bear
He seemed to know the name of every plant and bug and bird

The tour would take an hour
But the time just seemed to fly
As we checked on just ‘bout everything we could
The nests of cactus wrens and the gopher tortoise den
When Charlie said, “stop in again”, I said I would

“Christmas Party at Cactus Charlie’s”
The notes came in our reg’lar mail
We’re invited on the eve of Christmas Day
‘Course a lot of folks had plans, but they changed ‘em for that old man
Some were curious or just polite, but we all came

An’ I’ve never so many of us together
But there we were at Charlie’s
All arriving in the evening’s fading light
And once we were all assembled, Charlie said in a voice that trembled
“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight.”

And then he took us on the tour
Not another word was spoken
As Charlie took us on the path where we always met
He must have worked for hours placing candles and adding flowers
I believe it was as close to Heaven as some of us would get

The cactus glowed from all those candles
Shadows flickered on our faces
There was smiles and married folk were holding hands
Charlie’s gift was plain to see, what he shared with them and me
Was the joy and peace that come to those who love their land

Now me, I’m just an old poet
But that gives me a kind of license
To tell you things that may or may not be true
You might wonder if this story’s real, well, you go with how you feel
‘Cause truth, like joy and peace, is better when you find it, inside you