Free verse, freely given, free of charge Poet: The meter isn't running when Norine Osbon Fox sits down to write -- her idea of poetic justice is to donate her collections and let her favorite charities do the rest of the collecting.


Norine Osbon Fox has written three books of poetry, but has not earned one penny from their sales.

"It's too much trouble to make out those income tax forms," she joked from her home on Chincoteague Island, Va.

The truth is that the former Pasadena resident has donated more than $1,200 from her first work, "Chincoteague Chanteys," to the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, N.J.

The proceeds from her second work, "More Truth Than Poetry," will be donated to the Association for Retarded Citizens.

And the sales from "Assateague Anthems" will be given to help the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge repopulate its diminished parcel of pine trees.

"This is not work," she said of her poetry. "There's no reason I should make a profit."

Mrs. Fox, 78, who lived in Lake Shore and Magothy Beach for 32 years before she moved to Chincoteague in 1986, has been writing poems since she was a child.

When she was 3 years old, Mrs. Fox gave her mother a sheet of paper with some scribbling on it, she recalled.

"My mother said it was illegible," Mrs. Fox said. "I called it my first poem."

Mrs. Fox even remembers the three lines she wrote:

There were two men in a boat And the bottom fell out And the fish ate the men. "I just grew up with poetry," Mrs. Fox said. "It's always been my favorite reading."

Her love for poetry is second only to her desire to reward others who do good deeds. That's why Mrs. Fox donated the money from "Chincoteague Chanteys" to the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, she said.

"They have never sent a bill to a patient who can't pay it," she said. "They will take insurance if the patient has that. But if they don't have insurance, the patient doesn't get a bill. I thought it was a good cause."

Mrs. Fox is so diligent about preserving an idea that when she does think of one, she writes it on a note pad she keeps next to her bed.

"It may just be a line," Mrs. Fox said. "Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and scribble something."

Mrs. Fox said she does not have a favorite poet ("They range from Mother Goose to Shakespeare") nor a favorite work. She is inspired by almost everything, she said, and cites a definition of poetry written by Carl Sandburg: "Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits."

"It means poetry can encompass the beautiful and the everyday," Mrs. Fox said. "There is no limit to poetry."

To order a book, call Annie Webb of the Association of Retarded Citizens of Anne Arundel County at (410) 360-8552.

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